Airport Manager Dan Cogan said Baker Construction Services of Bluff City and Summers-Taylor are now working to complete a 400-foot extension to the runway’s east end. He said the work will result in the runway changing from 4,600 feet to 5,000 feet.
Baker Construction is doing the excavation work and Summers-Taylor is laying down the asphalt for the project.
Cogan said the extension is being done with a grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation Aeronautics Divison. The grant requires a 10 percent local match. Cogan said that local match was paid for out of the airport's fuel sales and hangar rentals.
"No additional city taxpayer money was used to provide the matching funds," Cogan said on Tuesday.
The airport has owned the land for the expansion for several years, but it could not be accomplished because there were several houses and trees that were in the approach that stood too tall. It was not until the airport acquired those properties a few years ago that the runway extension could be accomplished.
Cogan said the additional footage is important. He said some insurance carriers will not insure planes to land on runways shorter than 5,000 feet. He said this will open the airport up to more planes covered by those companies.
He said the additional 400 feet also provide an additional safety factor. A pilot has more room for error, slightly more length and slightly more time to recover.
Cogan said it also means pilots may be able to carry more fuel to make a trip.
"Fuel is heavy," Cogan said. In some instances, a pilot has had to limit fuel load for a safe takeoff. With the longer runway, the pilot can carry more fuel if needed.
The entire project is scheduled to take 120 days.