June 22--The Hartselle City Council has hired a Huntsville firm to conduct a study to determine if a section of land at Hartselle-Morgan County Regional Airport needs to undergo wetlands mitigation.
If the area contains wetlands, it has to be mitigated before work on the runway side slopes, equivalent to a shoulder on a highway, can begin, Hatselle Department of Development Director Jeff Johnson said last week. The side slopes of the runway are in low-lying areas and might need to be mitigated, meaning the land would need to be elevated.
The study, to be done by Garver Engineers, will cost about $30,000. The Federal Aviation Administration is contributing $26,972, and the city the rest. Hartselle Mayor Don Hall said he hasn't received a quote about how much it would cost if the side slopes contain wetlands.
The state Aeronautics Bureau and the city were supposed to contribute 5 percent each, but Johnson said the Aeronautics Bureau notified him that it did not have resources to help with the project.
The runway's side slopes do not meet FAA regulations and are a safety hazard, Johnson said.
Johnson said it's best to begin the process now because it would be a problem in the future when the city wants to extend its runway to accommodate larger aircrafts.
"The runway extension is in the future plans," Hall said. "It's more of a safety issue rather than an increase in operation."
Hall said the runway is about 3,600 feet long and likely will be extended 400 feet.
The runway is adequate for smaller, one-engine planes, but pilots of larger aircrafts with two engines are hesitant to land at the airport because of the runway length.
"This is the last safety projects before we can consider the runway extension," Johnson said.
Over the past seven years, the city has upgraded its runway lighting and rotating beacon, expanded and upgraded airport hangars and restriped the runway.
Johnson said the mitigation study will begin Monday.
Briana Harris can be reached at 256-340-2440 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @DD_BrianaHarris.
Copyright 2014 - The Decatur Daily, Ala.