Monday, January 23, 2012

Input sought on airport improvements: Extended runway, new lighting planned. Murfreesboro Municipal Airport (KMBT) Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Those wishing to learn more about future improvements at the Murfreesboro Municipal Airport should make plans to attend a public hearing before the Murfreesboro Planning Commission at 7 p.m. Feb. 1.

Development of this Airport Layout Plan began in 2008, according to Airport Manager Chad Gehrke. Throughout the process, the proposed plan has been reviewed and coordinated by the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Division of Aeronautics and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Currently, Gehrke said, the airport is considered by the FAA considers the airport a B-II sized airport that serves small single engine aircraft to light twin-engine piston, turbine and jet aircraft.

A study performed during a recent update to the Airport Layout Plan determined that there are some aircraft in the current fleet mix that justify a longer runway, Gehrke added. The proposed plan shows the airport will continue to be a B-II category airport. The runway extension will enable larger, light twin engine, B-II category, aircraft currently using the facility to have a safer and more efficient use of the airport.

The public hearing will take place in City Hall council chambers, 111 W. Vine St. If planning commissioners give it the nod, the proposed Airport Layout Plan will be forwarded to Murfreesboro City Council to consider for adoption.

An environmental assessment was conducted on the proposed runway extension in November. The assessment process included a public hearing to receive public comment on the proposed plan to extend its runway north toward DeJarnette Lane.

The environmental assessment identified the need for the project, explored eight reasonable alternatives, including the identification of the preferred alternative to extend the runway 1,102 feet to the north, found measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any adverse environmental impacts found. Federal aviation officials determined the expansion would have no significant impact on the environment.

Along with the extension of the runway to a total length of 5,000 feet, Gehrke said, the improvements outlined in the proposed Airport Layout Plan, if adopted, will include construction grading, drainage and filling in pavement side slopes, construction of a taxiway 35 feet wide to serve the new runway extension, installation of new medium-intensity runway and taxiway lights to serve the extended pavement, as well as a new terminal building, ramp area and fuel farm improvements.

During the project, a new non-precision standard instrument approach procedures will be implemented, upgraded navigational aids will be installed and FAA-approved guidance signs will be added. A development plan is in place for additional facilities for MTSU's Aerospace Department and other hangars and ramp areas on the north end of the airport.

The airport sees about 56,000 flight operations annually. Sixty percent of them come from MTSU. The runway improvements will allow aerospace students to train on larger planes.

The project also required the acquisition of a navigation easement of less than .75 of an acre on the north side of DeJarnette Lane to control land use.

A recent MTSU economic impact study concluded the airport has a positive annual economic impact of over $70 million, Gerhke said. Murfreesboro's airport is one of the very few in the state that is self-supporting, meaning no local tax dollars are used in its annual budget for operations or capital improvements.

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