Air Force Reserves could work on Morgantown airport runway extension

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Work on the long-discussed runway extension project at the Morgantown Municipal Airport could begin within a year.

In June, members of the Air Force Reserve Innovative Readiness Training group will scope out the current 5,199 foot runway to begin planning for a 1,001 foot extension.

By April 2016, Assistant City Manager Glen Kelly anticipates the beginning of development.

“It’s taking it from something that was truly out of reach to the realm of possible and consequently saving the city and taxpayers a lot of money,” Kelly said.

The partnership could be responsible for several million dollars in savings in construction costs alone.

“This makes it very feasible because it will save us at least $8 million and maybe as much as $12 million in the overall cost of $31 million,” estimated Kelly.

According to Kelly, the same teams have been responsible for runway and airfield landing zone development for US troops in war torn areas of Iraq.

“Airmen will be getting training as they’re doing this. Of course they’ll be led by Army engineers and the Air Force engineers who build runways all over the world,” Kelly said. “I actually expect a better product than if we were to contract probably.”

A 6,200 foot runway opens the city up to outgoing international flights which will be a draw for businesses that exist in the city and potential businesses.

“It will facilitate us servicing business like some of the businesses we lost recently like Mylan Pharmaceuticals aviation section. They couldn’t fly internationally from our airport and now they will be able to,” Kelly explained.

Work on the runway extension could take up to 2 years. It will change the landscape around the airport. When earth around the airport is moved, another 300 acres will be transitioned into useable land for a business park.

“It’s going to be a huge benefit to us, to the University, to the businesses in the local area and also Camp Dawson,” according to Kelly.

Parts of the project are subject to business and occupation taxes. Kelly also projects opportunities for local companies to bid on follow up projects including runway paving.