HOLLY SPRINGS — While motorists traveling down Holly Springs Church Road may not notice changes at the moment, work is now officially under way on a project authorities say will ultimately provide an economic development incentive for the area.
According to Nolan Kirkman, a member of the Mount Airy Airport Authority board, contractors are busy surveying property and removing trees as part of a project that will ultimately extend the airport’s runway, and with that, give Holly Springs Church Road a new footprint in the county.
“To date, the initial phases of the project have begin,” Kirkman said. “That includes surveying work tree cutting and erosion control measures.”
The work is part of a plan that will extend the airport’s 4,300-foot runway by 1,200 feet, space officials say is necessary to accommodate larger planes.
In order to extend the runway, workers will have to move Holly Springs Church Road, a phase of the project that Kirkman says should be completed by spring, 2015.
“Runway lengthening and site work will start immediately upon completion of that phase, and it should take approximately another year,” Kirkman said.
The final phase will involve paving and lighting the runway.
The entire project is “optimistically” expected to be completed by summer 2017.
“The ultimate goal here is economic development, providing a safe airport for landing and allowing access to larger planes.” Kirkman said.
“We had identified a need that the runway needs to be larger,” said airport authority Chairman John Springthorpe, noting that four corporate jets are based at the airport. “At times they can’t use the airport because the runway is too short, and it’s keeping out prospective businesses.”
On hot days, Springthorpe said aircraft aren’t as efficient and require more take-off and landing space.
Mount Airy company Smith-Rowe LLC, was awarded the contract for the project last year, bidding $4,888, 743. Smith-Rowe beat out Pilot Mountain’s Jimmy R. Lynch & Sons, Inc., ($5,345,237); Vecellio & Grogan Inc., of Beckley, W.Va., ($6,243,490); and Burlington’s Triangle Grading & Paving, ($6,432,967), to win the contract.
The Surry County Board of Commissioners has appropriated $411,000 as a local match for the project against a $5 million investment from the state and federal governments, money which Springthorpe said will help fuel the county’s economy.
“Less than 10 percent of the costs are coming from local taxpayers, but the funds will be coming back into the county to help put people to work and create this new road segment,” he said.
“I’m personally pleased that after years of planning and preparation, this project is finally under way,” he said. “I’m also pleased that the low bid was submitted by a local contractor and that the money will stay in the county. This project will create jobs in the county.”
After more than a decade in the planning stages, Springthorpe said the project will ultimately yield a better road for Holly Springs residents.
The project will construct about a mile of new roadway that will “horseshoe” around the extended runway.
“Before the aviation component can even begin we have to move the road,” he said. “But there is a benefit to the road’s users as well, because the road right now is narrow and has drainage problems. With this project we’re going to build a brand new road that’s constructed to current standards.”
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.