The Horry County Department of Airports has received a $340,251 grant to help pay for a study that will examine the need for a new regional airport.
The county, which operates Myrtle Beach International Airport, received the grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and will contract with the North Eastern Strategic Alliance to undertake the study.
Marion County, halfway between the hubs of Myrtle Beach and Florence, has been targeted as one possible location for the regional airport, if a need for it can be determined.
"That's what the study is going to verify," said Bob Kemp, director of Myrtle Beach International Airport.
Kemp said the grant would fund the first phase of the study.
NESA, which will do the study, promotes economic development in a 10-county region that includes the Pee Dee and Waccamaw regions as well as the coastal areas of the Grand Strand and Georgetown.
Legislative members of NESA have focused on Interstate 73, an international airport and an international trade center as their top priorities.
Myrtle Beach International Airport broke ground last spring on a 14-gate terminal.
Liz Gilland, Horry County Council chairwoman, said she thinks the area eventually will need a regional airport as well as the larger terminal in Myrtle Beach.
"We definitely need what we have planned to have, which is those 14 gates. We need those today," Gilland said.
Gilland said her priority is the airports within Horry County, although she thinks a regional airport could be necessary in 20 or 30 years.
"It may take 20, 30 years, but the population between Wilmington and Florence and maybe all the way to Charleston is going to be beyond most folks' imaginations," Gilland said. "Everyone seems to be moving to the coast, and ours is one of the nicest coasts."
Copyright 2005 Associated Press
The study also will outline the 20-year aviation activity for the area and identify at least three potential sites where such an airport should be constructed to best serve the region.
The plan to rekindle the airport expansion by creating a joint city-county board was unveiled by a group of six County Council members this week.
An eight-year mission to expand the airport's seven-gate terminal was brought to a halt Thursday when a volunteer city review board unanimously rejected the plans -- a move that astonished county...
If approved, the study would look at how well the airport staff juggles recent increases in passengers, airport leases for companies such as AvCraft and day-to-day work on a $200 million terminal...