Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Officials Set Unanimity as Measure of Support for New Airport

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Officials Set Unanimity as Measure of Support for New Airport

Article excerpt

Franklin County won't try to find a site for a new regional airport unless all the cities in the county support the effort, Presiding Commissioner Bill Diez says. St. Clair and Sullivan, which operate airports, appear skeptical of the idea.

Diez was reacting to a study by Sverdrup Corp. that recommended such an airport to serve the northern part of the county. Representatives of Sverdrup presented the study Friday to the county's Aviation Committee.

The regional airport would be aimed at weekend and some corporate fliers. It would be far smaller than Spirit of St. Louis Airport and similar to an airport at Sullivan. The earliest a new regional airport could open is five years, officials said.

Diez said that he would ask each municipality for a letter of support, before the county files an application for federal money that would pay 90 percent of the $90,000 of a site selection study. The county would provide the rest of the money.

"If the county government doesn't have the cooperation and the willingness to go ahead from all the entities in the county, we might as well forget it," Diez said.

Sullivan airport officials say they are busy with continued growth, while St. Clair officials are concerned that their airport's future would be jeopardized by a new regional facility in the northern end of the county.

Officials of Washington, whose airport has been shut down twice in three years by flooding, have said that they want their facility considered for the regional airport.

Sverdrup recommended that Washington and St. Clair delay major investments in their airports until Franklin County completes the site-selection study. Sverdrup also said that Sullivan airport should expand, to serve the southwest area as demand increases.

Washington City Administrator Jim Briggs said that city officials would wait for a county decision before making major expansion plans.

That city has operated the airport since the mid-1960s. The facility has a runway of 3,480 feet, two hangars that house up to 24 planes and an administration-maintenance building. In 1991, the last year when the airport was open for an entire year, about 51,000 take-offs and landings took place. …

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