Northwest Arkansas Airport Could Open in Three Years

Article excerpt

ROGERS, Ark. (AP) _ Three years from now, airplanes could be taking off and landing at a new Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, the chairman of the airport authority said after another nod of approval from federal officials.

"There's a lot of things we have to go through, but I still think it's feasible to land planes out there by late 1995 or early 1996," said Mark Simmons, airport authority chairman.

Last week, Federal Aviation Administration regional official Edward N. Agnew notified the authority by letter that consultants for the authority could proceed with master plans for the airport. Agnew is manager of the Arkansas-Louisiana Development Office of the FAA's Southwest Region at Fort Worth.

Agnew said site-specific master planning could proceed since the FAA has approved a study of possible effects of the airport on the groundwater in the area. The five-month study was prompted by discovery of Ozark cavefish, a threatened species protected by the federal government, in a spring 1.5 miles east of the proposed 8,800-foot main runway at the proposed site in southwestern Benton County.

Discovery of the cavefish had put planning for the airport in limbo while the study was carried out. The area where the authority proposes to put the airport has many surface streams, several of which connect with underground water systems. …