Airport authority hears from GDOT on Old Alabama widening project
by Matt Shinall
Nov 29, 2012 | 1385 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
No decisions were made at Tuesday’s meeting of the Cartersville-Bartow County Airport Authority, but questions were raised when Georgia Department of Transportation maps did not show allowances previously discussed in the widening of Old Alabama Road.

A GDOT representative made a formal offer for right-of-way purchase regarding airport land for the Old Alabama widening project, but the airport authority was unable to vote on the matter due to regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Maps provided by GDOT for Tuesday’s meeting showed an average easement of about 50 feet, but did not show plans for a bridge to be built over Old Alabama Road as a runway extension to bring the airport into compliance with current FAA regulations. The runway extension over Old Alabama Road was demanded by the FAA after actions taken by GDOT in the widening and reconstruction of Ga. Highway 113/61 on the airport’s northern boundary line.

“We’ve been told previously that DOT was, as part of the widening project, building a crossway or bridge over Old Alabama for our runway extension so that we could continue operating the airport at current operation levels,” said Airport Authority Attorney Keith Lovell. “All of that came about probably about six years ago when [GDOT] did the [Highway] 113 project and you had to take right of way on that end. Because of that, it caused all of the airport’s lines to shift south, which we did. We gave up all of our north lines with the understanding with the understanding that if you ever came back on the south side, you would address that.

“So what we’re curious about is, where is the bridge going over the road? The second thing is, whether the airport wants to give up property or not, all this land is governed by federal grants. Before we get rid of any property, the FAA has to approve it first. If we wanted to give it to you today, we couldn’t.”

The Cartersville-Bartow County Airport is currently grandfathered under new safety regulations, but must make accommodations to comply with runway overrun requirements before accepting federal grant dollars. Runway overrun is a safety requirement mandated by the FAA in the event of emergency landing situations. Although the Cartersville-Bartow County Airport’s current runway is long enough for operational needs, FAA regulations require additional length in case of such emergencies.

“The airport currently has a safety overrun issue,” said Airport Authority Member Hans Lutjens. “What I’m looking at from an airport standpoint, before we give up any easement I think we need to look at how we’ll handle that portion of the project.

“We really need to take a look at the right of way for the finished product, because we’ve got to see where this is going.”

The offer presented by GDOT was $135,450 for right-of-way acquisition. The majority of that sum, more than $99,000, was specifically for the replacement of a security fence. Due to security requirements following Sept. 11, airports must maintain a certain level of security measures at all times.

The airport authority asked for clarification from GDOT regarding the maps, dated in March 2012, and to see revised plans reflecting the runway overrun bridge if they exist. Authority Chairman Robert Hite was appointed as the authority’s point of contact for further communication with GDOT regarding right-of-way acquisition.

GDOT estimates construction on this project to begin in 2014.