Wed, May 27, 2009
But The New Facility Is A Long Way From Reality
After a year-long feasibility study, the James City Board of
Supervisors' Community Airport Committee has recommended that the
county build a new airport, rather than buy and operate
Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport (pictured below).
The existing airport is privately owned, and does not meet
certain FAA standards. That was one of the determining factors in
the committees' decision to launch a site selection survey for a
new airport. Extensive rehabilitation to Williamsburg-Jamestown
Airport would be needed to bring it up to federal aviation
FAA Airport Planner Jeffery Breedon told the The Newport News
Daily Press that building a new airport is a lengthy and involved
process which doesn't "just happen overnight". The site selection,
environmental impact studies, design and layout, and land
acquisition could take up to 20 years. And while federal money and
state money ... up to 98 percent of the cost of either building a
new airport or rehabbing the current one ... is available, the
process is competitive, and the FAA can look more favorably on
upgrading an existing airport. If no suitable land is found, the
state of Virginia would want it's portion of the money back. County
Administrator Sandy Wanner pointed out that there "is not a lot of
land left in James City County".
The committee estimated the cost of
a new airport at $16 million just to complete the site study,
acquire the land, and build a runway. That price tag does not
include hangars, buildings, or other facilities. But
Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport (JGG) would need extensive upgrades
including a wider runway to bring it up to FAA standards, and a
nearby landfill is also a problem. Those issues so far have been
waived because the airport is privately owned.
The current airport is one like where many of us learned to fly.
About 77 airplanes call Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport home, most
of them single engine GA aircraft. The single 3200 foot runway
handles about 22 thousand operations a year. There is an FBO, a
restaurant, fuel, and pilot shop. It was established by Larry and
Jean Waltrip in 1970. They have owned and operated it ever since,
but Mr. Waltrip has announced his intention to retire.
Committee Chair Tucker Edwards told the Board of Supervisors
"The airport is highly valued by the people who use it now".
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