Thursday, 17 June 2021 17:20

Richmond County Airport runways get a makeover

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The recently resurfaced and repainted runways at the Richmond County Airport passed inspection Wednesday by the N.C. Department of Transportation. The recently resurfaced and repainted runways at the Richmond County Airport passed inspection Wednesday by the N.C. Department of Transportation. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Planes flying into the Richmond County Airport will have a smoother landing following a recent project.


The runways were resurfaced and repainted about a month ago — the paint has to set for 30 days — with the N.C. Department of Transportation conducting a final inspection Wednesday, according to Airport Manager Jason Gainey.

Gainey said the funding for the project was allocated before he came to the airport, and was expedited following conversations with the DOT

“I kept telling them we’ve got flight training going on, they can’t see any markings — the whole runway out here was completely faded … so, you couldn’t tell for sure if you were landing at the thousand-foot markers or where you were on the runway, especially if it was cloudy,” Gainey said driving across the tarmac Thursday morning.

He added that the painting was “very important … so the airplanes could see what they had going on.”

The wide 1,000-foot markers on the runway is where pilots usually try to touch down and it gives them about 4,000 more feet to stop, according to Gainey.

“It’s pretty exciting for the county and our people to be able to now handle larger airplanes, because it’s hard for them to tell if they’re centered or not without a line,” he said.

The only area that wasn’t repaved was the older section near the hangars.

“They sealed the cracks in it but they didn’t put a surface coat on because they said … it was going to have to be replaced in five or six years, anyway,” Gainey said.

 

New LED runway lights were also recently installed as part of another project.

Last year, 4,000 feet of the perimeter 6-foot fence along the south side of the airport was replaced with an 8-foot fence featuring three strands of barbed wire at the top. The project was mostly paid for through a grant from the N.C. Department of Transportation.

In addition to the paved runway, the airport has a 400-foot wide by 3,000 grass cross-runway that’s 400 feet wide and 3,000 feet long.

“It’s probably the widest runway in North Carolina,” Gainey said. “The military loves to use this strip because it’s so wide they can bring in and practice with their larger aircraft.”

One future project will require the moving of the fuel tanks further from the runway due to new FAA guidelines.

In January, the N.C. Board of Transportation approved $148,539 toward the Airport Safety Enhancement Program “to provide matching funds for federal safety grants” at eight rural airports, including the one in Richmond County.

Other grants the airport has received in recent years include:

  • $160,373 for apron reconstruction and hangar relocation (December 2017)
  • $270,000 for environmental assessments (April 2019)

The Richmond County Airport is one of 72 public airports in the state.

In April, someone tore down about 100 yards of fencing at the front of the airport after ramming it with a vehicle and damaged the gate to the field.

That fencing has yet to be replaced.