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Does Moultrie need a longer runway?

MOULTRIE, GA – A T-Splost project in Moultrie is sparking some controversy. It would restore the Spence Field runway to 10,000 feet, making it one of the longest in the state.

The mayor says that would be inviting for cargo aircraft, but the owner of an aircraft company at the city’s municipal airport says the money could be better spent there.

For three days in October, Spence Field is packed for the Sunbelt AG Expo. About 150 flights come in and out for the event. But outside of that, the runway is usually empty.

But if the T-Splost measure passes, Spence Field would get a $4.2 million restoration.

“It’s not something we just went out said, ‘Hey, let’s spend some money at Spence Field.’ It’s a niche in that process of getting projects,” said Mayor Bill McIntosh.

Mayor McIntosh says this is one of many project ideas the city submitted to the state and one the DOT approved. The mayor believes Restoring the runway built by the military in the 1940’s to 10,000 feet is in investment in the future.

“We’ve had inquires in the past from companies that wanted to come in and do business there that would require a runway of that magnitude,”

Across town at Moultrie Municipal Airport, where an estimated 5,500 flights originate annually.

“If it’s a pie in the sky type of thing where if you build it, they will come. I think that’s a big gamble with $4.2 million that we know could be used here,” said Alan Mathis with Eagles of America.

He took us on tour of the runway. It’s bumpy, there’s gravel in some spots, re-painting is needed. The airport is also home to several corporate jets the owners of which often complain of the conditions.

Mayor McIntosh says for whatever reason, the municipal airport didn’t inquire about splost funding. But Mathis says the city could have at least asked for input from the aviation commission.

“The airport authority are all volunteers. They’re not paid to manage huge amounts of funds or find out things like this. That’s the job of other people. They should be informed of what’s going on,” said Mathis.

But for now it’s to up to voters to decided if the T-SPLOST will pass in the first place.

If the T-Splost referendum passes the Spence field project would not even break ground for another 8 to 10 years.

Copyright 2012 WALB. All rights reserved.

Source: http://www.walb.com/story/19077193/does-mpultrie-need-a-bigger-runway


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