Land wanted for airport

Marana hopes to Buy 90 state acres near Planned Corporate Terminal, Restaurant

Marana officials hope to continue their airport expansion plans this summer with the purchase of 90 acres of state land.

The land, appraised at $1.3 million, lies east of a planned corporate terminal and restaurant, and will provide access to the area once construction is complete, said Charles Mangum, airport director.

In the next 20 years, officials plan to spend more than $74 million on airport improvements. Eventually, they will add an air- traffic control tower and another runway.

The expansion will cater to a growing number of recreational and corporate flights out of the airport, as total traffic is expected to double in the next 20 years.

Town officials want the land, which is earmarked for public auction in August, to provide direct access to the corporate side of the airport.

After securing the land, officials want to build two roads north of Avra Valley Road. One would curl around the airport's eastern edge, while a smaller road would connect directly to the corporate terminal, which should be completed in three years.

Because state land is sold to the highest bidder, it's possible the town could be outbid. But the town should be able to get the land, because zoning near the airport prohibits residential development, Mangum said.

While the price of the land is steep, officials would use state and federal grants to pay 97.5 percent of the bill, meaning the town would pay $32,500.

The town also wants to acquire state land south of Avra Valley Road that would become part of the airport. The hope is to realign Avra Valley to bend south of the planned expansion.

Controlling the land around the airport is an important town goal, said Town Manager Mike Reuwsaat.

Besides having the land necessary for the airport's expected build-out, it will be important to develop businesses and industry in the corridor, he said.

"We need to provide infrastructure for commercial and industrial development outside the fence" of the airport, Reuwsaat said. "That will be a good opportunity for our job base."

Already, construction crews are more than halfway through installing water and sewer lines throughout the airport. The lines will form the backbone of future commercial and industrial development at the airport, Mangum said.

This summer, town officials hope to receive a grant to begin the design of the airport's planned air traffic control tower.

The town will continue to work with federal leaders to try to get more money for the tower, Mangum said.

Airport development timeline

Since purchasing Marana Regional Airport from Pima County in 1999, town officials have committed to spending more than $74 million over the next 20 years to cover the airport's planned expansion.

Most of the money used in the expansion is expected to come from state and federal grants. The town has spent at least $18 million to date on airport repairs.

Here is a look at the planned expansion:

Short-term (within seven years)

* Build a new airport terminal.

* Build additional hangars.

* Extend the shorter of the two runways 507 feet northeast.

* Build an airport control tower.

* Acquire property for runway protection zones and airport expansion.

Cost: About $39 million

Intermediate-term (within 14 years)

* Realign Avra Valley Road.

* Extend the longer of the two runways 299 feet southeast.

* Build additional hangars.

* Extend the shorter of the two runways 300 feet southwest.

Cost: About $25.5 million

Long-term (within 20 years)

* Build additional hangars.

* Build an additional parking apron for aircraft.

* Build a high-speed exit taxiway for the longer runway.

* Continue pavement preservation.

Cost: $10 million

Source: Marana Regional Airport Master Plan Update

* Contact reporter Aaron Mackey at 618-1924 or amackey@azstarnet.com



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