If there was one comment that aviation consultant Mike Moroney wrote down most Tuesday night, it was for the airport to stay out of the swamp.
Of the 20 people who showed up for a public discussion of the Augusta Regional Airport's master plan, those who spoke up voiced concerns about the airport building a new runway into the constructed wetlands that border Bush Field.
"I'm not going to consider in my comments at all (a plan) where you land on the Savannah River in the wetlands," said Sam Booher, the state chairman of the Sierra Club. "I cannot give any serious consideration to that preferred alternative."
The preferred alternative is the concept showing Augusta Regional in 20 years with a midfield terminal and a new 9,000-foot runway.
The expansion plan would cost $122 million before inflation during the next 20 years, according to estimates from Black & Veatch, the company that has been developing the airport's first master plan.
Several people at the meeting asked Mr. Moroney, the principal consultant on the plan, what environmental impacts would be involved in extending a new runway into an area where the wetlands exist, north of the airport.
Mr. Moroney said many of those questions would have to be answered in an environmental assessment that has not yet been conducted.
While several people at the meeting questioned the need to redraw the airport's terminal and runway layout, Les Morton, of Augusta, said expansion was inevitable.
"The key point is right now what we're looking at is how Augusta is going to have to change," he said. "I think Augusta's is unique because we have the land to do the things we need to do."
Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 823-3227 or email@example.com.
|The airport will organize another public meeting for November to present the master plan. Airport officials said Tuesday's meeting was hastily planned and that the next meeting will feature members of the Augusta Aviation Commission.|