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MCRA capital-improvement projects remain a priority
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Civilian and military members of the Mid-Coast Regional Airport/Wright Army Airfield gathered Thursday to discuss ongoing projects at the airport.

 “It’s really just updates today, nothing substantial,” said Rick Mansford, airfield operations officer, as he began the meeting.

Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Milton, Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas, Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver and Liberty County Development Authority Chairman Allen Brown, as well as military airport staff, were present for the meeting.

There has been little change on many of the long-term projects going on at or near the airport, Mansford said.

Two runway capital-improvement projects that would accommodate a wider array of aircraft remain a priority for the civilians and military, officials said.

One project, construction of runway 1533, received design approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, one of the staff members said. The project now moves into the next stage: finding funding.

The other project is expanding the airport’s east-west runway by 1,500 feet, which is a featured item on the July 31 Transportation Investment Act referendum. If the 1 percent sales tax passes, approximately $6 million of the tax revenue would go toward the extensions of runway 6/24 and taxiway C, according to projections provided by the Coastal Regional Commission.

Currently, there are conceptual designs for the extension but not full designs. Officials are completing environmental analyses for the project, but financial constraints are inhibiting the project from moving forward.

“I think the public realizes, to a large degree, that we need (the tax),” Thomas said. “Especially the Chatham County area, with the harbor deepening, they need those votes to build highways and roadways to accommodate the harbor deepening.”

Randy Bisgard, director of training with the airport’s management company, ABS Aviation, gave an update on the civilian operations side.

He said aviation gas sales are showing some improvement.

“We’re fairly optimistic about 2012; it seems like we’re leveling off instead of going downhill,” Bisgard said. “So, the fuel volumes, we think, are going to start picking up this first quarter.”

Nationwide, aviation activity seems to be increasing, he added.

The airport will host a fly-in from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 10. The event, which includes a cookout, offers pilots a chance to network and talk shop.

The board’s next meeting is tentatively scheduled for May 3.

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