Orangeburg Municipal Airport Expansion Seen as Ticket to More Air Traffic in S.C.

Mar. 13--The Orangeburg Municipal Airport is planning a two-phase expansion project including the construction of a new hangar, the relocation of an old hangar and expansion of its southside ramp.

The project is being done to better accommodate the increasing use of the airport.

The two-phase project, which will cost about $1.6 million, will include relocation of the airport's current 10-unit T-hangar building built in 1996 and construction of a new 10-unit T-hangar. The first phase will cost about $850,000.

Phase I is currently being designed, with the project set to go out to bid in April and construction beginning later in the spring.

The lack of space often results in pilots having to wait for space to park their respective aircraft, said Ron Kohler, airport manager.

"It will mean additional aircraft and more people bringing in aircraft," Kohler said. "We are looking to help the airport grow."

Currently, about 35 aircraft are stationed at Orangeburg Municipal.

Funding will come through about $660,000 from the Federal Aviation Administration, with about $17,000 each from a state and local match.

Local funding will be part of the county's capital 1 percent sales tax.

The LPA Group out of Columbia is the consulting group for the project.

Phase II will include the expansion of the ramp in front of the airport's main terminal. Phase II is estimated to cost about $793,000, again with a large portion funded by the FAA.

The ramp expansion is intended to provide more space for the larger aircraft. Parking larger aircraft has been difficult, Kohler said.

The additional parking will encroach on the airport's old grass strip area, which was closed and removed.

"We have some rather large aircraft ... Challengers, Falcons ... Lears and a Beach," Kohler said.

Phase II is expected to begin in 2007.

Kohler said the expansions are all about making the airport more attractive to pilots.

"We are looking to expand on the place so we can get more business for the city," Kohler said.

The projects are among the latest in upgrades at the airport.

The Columbia Metropolitan Airport is in the process of installing a communications tower at Orangeburg Municipal that will enhance communications radar capabilities, allowing aircraft to contact the Columbia tower from a greater distance.

The tower is about two-thirds complete and is scheduled to be up and running by June.

Three years ago, work was done on the airport's runways.

Currently, the airport has two runways -- 4,500-foot Runway 5/23 and 1,500-foot Runway 17/35.

On the long-term airport master plan, plans call for the possible relocation of the airport's taxiway, the placement of a larger hangar for jet-sized planes, as well as adding more vehicle parking.