Runway extension, road change set to go to feds

Plans to extend the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport runway and realign Austin Boulevard are expected to go to federal officials soon.

The runway extension from 5,000 to 5,500 feet and moving a portion of Austin north are among a series of changes in the general aviation airport’s multi-million dollar proposed master plan. It also calls for changing classifications to increase speed authority, altering taxiways and building more hangars at the 527-acre site, a Dayton aviation official said.

Expanding the runway and increasing its speed limits would expand the ability for planes to use the facility, said Gil Turner, deputy director of aviation for the city of Dayton, which operates the airport. The amount of runway that can be used in bad weather is now restricted, prompting many to use Dayton International Airport, he said.

“It will allow the opportunity for the aircraft to operate more frequently,” Turner said. “The issue is when it is contaminated with wet or snow, then that limits their calculation for landings and takeoff….and also when it is hot out, there are restrictions there….you need a long runway.”

Extending the runway will also help attract more commerce to that area, said Patrick Rini, a partner with The Connor Group, which last year moved its headquarters to the airport.

“The really great thing for the city of Dayton and the region is if you can extend that runway, you’re going to attract more businesses, more people are going to use (the airport) and it’s going to attract economic development,” he said.

About 200 aircraft a day fly in and out of DWBA, according to Passero Associates, the engineering firm that worked on the master plan. Most of those 20 airplanes require a runway more than 5,000 feet long when fully loaded on a hot summer afternoon, what Passero officials described as the “most demanding” conditions.

The airport is now permitted for knot speeds that translate to a range of about 104-140 miles per hour. The classification change would increase the range to roughly 140-162 miles per hour, Turner said.

The plan should be submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration in the next few weeks, after it is reviewed by Terry Slaybaugh, who is scheduled to return later this month to the city as its director of aviation.

The FAA review is expected to take about three months, Turner said. Should the project get federal approval, a sustainability study would be done in the next five years. It would include an array of issues, including environmental and land use, he said.

The realignment of Austin was earlier proposed with the widening of the road, which was completed in 2011. However, it was not included in that $5.1 million project because of lack of funds, Montgomery County officials have said.

Extending the runway and realigning Austin are estimated to cost a combined $10 million to $12 million, Passero officials have said. Because it is part of an airport improvement project, the Austin work may be able to be funded largely through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, airport officials have said.

The proposed realignment of Austin would begin just west of Rockcastle Court and loop about 1,000 feet to the north and end just east of the Ohio 741 intersection, Passero officials have said.

Under this plan, the airport would have to acquire 40 to 50 acres of Miami Twp. property to the north of Austin’s current location for a federally-mandated runway protection zone, officials have said. This would provide a buffer of about 600 feet for the closest residential property, they said.

The revised master plan also calls for revamping taxiways and building more hangars, Turner said. While additional hangars are part of the master plan, one is planned to be built regardless of the FAA’s review of the revised proposal, he said.

Neither the cost to build the new hangar, which would house 16 plans, nor the certainty of funding is known at this point, Turner said.

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