FAA: Closing existing Griffin-Spalding County Airport not an option

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

Griffin-Spalding County Airport Authority Chairman Dick Morrow has announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced it will not approve the closure of the existing Griffin-Spalding County Airport.
Previously thought to be a potential option on the table along with bringing the existing airport into Georgia Department of Transportation and FAA compliance and the construction of a new airport, GDoT officials now say it cannot be done.
“It is not an option,” Morrow said at Monday evening’s Airport Authority meeting. “The FAA is not interested in closing airports.”
In a later interview, Morrow explained how this information was obtained.
“We asked about a hard number – if we wanted to close down the airport, how much would it cost us? We’d estimated between $20 and $25 million, so I asked specifically for a price from the FAA to pay them what we owe them,” he said. “We owe them for the value of the airport – they originally paid for it – and for grants they’ve given us for the AIP (Airport Improvement Program). Here’s the official answer: You could bring us a check for $20 million and we’d say no. We don’t close airports; we operate airports. Their mission is to improve the aviation infrastructure and promote aviation. That’s what was relayed to me by GDoT from the FAA.”
According to Morrow, that leaves only two options on the table – keep the existing airport and bring it up to standards or build a new airport according to current standards.
He had previously announced that local officials have been put on notice that deficiencies at the existing airport must be brought into FAA and GDoT compliance, an undertaking for which a final price tag has not yet been fully calculated.
Morrow said among the existing airport would require a number of projects including, but not limited to, upgrades to the taxiways and ramp areas, runway rehabilitation, the correction of lighting deficiencies, removal of take off and landing obstructions, lengthening the runway from its current 3,701 feet to 5,000 feet – which is required of all Level 2 business airports, which is the designation of the existing Griffin-Spalding County Airport – and the expansion of the runway protection zones.
“They tell us it’s time to correct those deficiencies,” Morrow said.
He went on to explain that the 2014 inspection requiring those corrections was performed by a GDoT inspector that reported the findings to the FAA.
“Because GDoT administers the grants and the supervision of airports such as ours,” Morrow said. “Our inspections like the one we just had is a GDoT inspector checking for both FAA and GDoT compliance.”
Morrow said a consultant is now working to determine an estimated cost for completing the projects required for full compliance, but he said ten years ago, the price tag was projected at $90 million.

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Comments

  1. The airport has been in violation for years. My father and his co-pilot died from an accident there in 1997. The runway is more like 3200 ft. not 3700 like the FAA claims. I know my family walked and measured it. There were also apartments built in the protected airway space and a Piggly Wiggly Market in the parking lot across the highway. Another violation that went unnoticed by the “FAA”. The FAA and our Gov. use places like this for who knows what whenever they want.

  2. Someone else needs to talk directly to the FAA because I bet there is a big difference between what they say and what Mr. Morrow reports.

    • I got info from the FAA through Rep. Westmoreland’s office. It states the “preliminary estimate to bring the existing airport into current design standards” is $10 million. This article says $90 million!
      Another concern is the $6 million estimate for our 10% contribution to the “new” airport. Does that INCLUDE the FMV (fair market value) of the land that has to be acquired first, or is that an additional amount?

    • Such a statement from the FAA should be in writing.

  3. A Level 2 business airport? Is this a state designation or an FAA classification? When did either start mandating runway lengths? Here is a good read:
    wwww.faa.gov/airports/planning_capacity/ga_study/media/2012AssetReportAppA.pdf

    The runway doesn’t HAVE to be extended unless you just want the higher airport classification so you can qualify for more grant money. Just sayin’!

  4. So if you don’t bring the current airport up to standards wouldn’t the FAA close it? hmmmmmmmm

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