Runway work completed

Published 8:26 am Friday, September 11, 2009

FRANKLIN—Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport’s runway reopened Wednesday afternoon after being closed for months as it was rehabilitated.

“I’m glad to have it back open,” said Jimmy Gray, the airport’s manager. The project, which started in May, didn’t cost the city any money because it was funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, widely known as the federal stimulus package.

Gray said the work would have been done without the stimulus funding, but it would have been put off for a couple of years and would have cost city taxpayers around $40,000.

The airport remained operational during the project. A taxiway was used as a temporary runway, but it wasn’t large enough to accommodate some larger planes.

Work on the runway was completed at 2 p.m. Wednesday and the runway was open to airplanes at 3 p.m., after it was inspected. The first plane landed shortly thereafter, according to Gray.

“It’s been a smooth project, and it’s gone really well,” he said. “We’re mighty lucky to get the stimulus money.”

Gray said that Franklin was the only airport in Virginia to receive stimulus funds.

After a fast start on the project, rainy weather kept it from being completed early.

“They finished right on schedule,” Gray said. “And everything looks like it’s going to be under budget.”

The project was estimated to cost $2.2 million, but Gray said that there is still some minor work to be done, so the actual cost isn’t available yet.

“It’s state-of-the-art,” Gray said of the runway. It has grooved pavement, which allows for better drainage and cuts the risk of hydroplaning.

The new runway isn’t just safer; it’s more attractive to pilots and people flying into the area to do business.

“You’ve got to make a good impression for the city and the surrounding area,” Gray said. He said that a new, smooth runway makes a good first impression of the region.

Like all Federal Aviation Administration projects, the rehabilitated runway was engineered to have a life expectancy of 25 years.

Gray noted the importance of air travel, especially in today’s business world.

“A mile of runway will take you anywhere in the world, where a mile of roadway takes you a mile,” he said.