May 24--MONTOURSVILLE -- The economic impact of the Williamsport Regional Airport is estimated at $50 million annually. That's why the Williamsport Municipal Airport Authority wants to ensure that it remains adequate to serve about a dozen counties in the north-central part of the state.
The authority has unveiled its 20-year master plan that Chairman Mark Murawski says contains the projects to meet those needs. It is not an attempt to replicate facilities like those at Harrisburg International Airport, he said.
The master plan, developed by L. Robert Kimball & Associates, lists projects estimated to cost $40 million. Murawski said those projects will enable the airport to grow to meet the future needs of travelers and the aviation community.
The plan is flexible, so it can be changed if the need arises, Murawski said. He called it a blueprint for the development of services and facilities for the next 20 years.
Major components of the plan call for extending the main runway by about 350 feet, to 6,824 feet; improving safety areas and instrument approaches at each end of the runway; building a taxiway parallel to the runway; developing a 12-acre business park; and constructing more hangars for general aviation and corporate aircraft use.
Most of the projects are eligible for 95 percent Federal Aviation Administration funding, Murawski said. State funding could amount to 2.5 percent of the costs, leaving a like amount to be provided locally, he said.
Better access to the airport near Montoursville will be available after completion of a road between Loyalsock Avenue and an Interstate 180 interchange the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans to start building in 2008.
Simultaneously, the authority plans to relocate Airport Road, between Loyalsock Avenue and the terminal building, to open more land for development.
The airport is served by USAir Express with flights to and from Philadelphia, but the authority is seeking another carrier to provide service to the west.
Tallahassee Regional Airport needs a longer runway, expanded baggage service and more gates to handle additional passengers and commercial traffic expected over the next 20 years.
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