If things sound a little quiet around Mount Airy-Surry County Airport these days, it’s because the facility is closed temporarily as part of a runway extension project.
The closure went into effect on Sept. 1 and is scheduled to last for a 40-day period, according to Larry Johnson, a member of the Surry County Board of Commissioners representing its Mount Airy District. This affects both local recreational pilots along with companies that use the airport at Holly Springs for business purposes.
While the temporary shutdown is an inconvenience for the aviation community, it does signal that the end is near for the runway extension project that has been in the planning stages for about 16 years.
“The runway extension is happening,” Johnson told Mount Airy officials during a meeting recently, when he updated the progress of the long-awaited effort.
The work now underway which is requiring the closure is the final phase of the plan to lengthen the runway from 4,300 feet to 5,500 feet, so the airport can serve larger planes and better accommodate corporate clients.
The last stage involves lengthening, widening and hardening the runway by Carl Rose and Sons, a paving company in Elkin, in addition to placing new lighting there.
This includes repaving that initially will take place in an area of the airport which makes the 40-day shutdown necessary, according to Commissioner Johnson, who these days has a hands-on role with the airport due to a decision made last spring. The five county commissioners voted then to appoint themselves as replacements for members of the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport Authority, the facility’s governing board.
Johnson explained that the duration of the project now taking place is 140 days. “That’s what they expect to complete that whole project.”
However, the work will not require the airport to be closed for that entire time.
“When they open it back up (after the 40 days), they’ll keep working,” Johnson said of the paving crews completing their task. “The contractor will hopefully finish up in 140 days.”
Based on previous reports, the cost of the entire runway extension project is about $19 million, of which about $9 million was granted from state and federal funding sources.
Carl Rose and Sons was awarded a $4.9 million contract for the final phase in June.
The project has required the rerouting of nearby Holly Springs Church Road and the acquisition of neighboring property.