Carroll gives go-ahead for airport renovations

County expects U.S. funds to pay for 90% of project

July 12, 2002|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Betting that federal dollars will arrive to pay for most of the project, county government is moving forward on nearly $3 million in improvements to Carroll County Regional Airport.

"We are working with the contractor and proceeding as if this project was already funded," Gary Horst, county director of enterprise and recreation services, said in a meeting with the county commissioners yesterday.

"We expect to have all the paperwork to you soon. We need to move forward so we have all documentation in place, for when the dam breaks and the federal government is ready to go. We will be given greater consideration [for a federal grant] if we are prepared."

The project, which has the approval of the county planning commission, entails repaving, expanding and raising the grading of portions of the airport's blacktop area, about 50,000 square feet.

The county expects to award the contract to C. J. Miller of Hampstead, a company whose $2.7 million bid was $600,000 below the engineering estimate.

The county is looking to the Federal Aviation Administration for 90 percent of the cost, Horst said. While county officials are working with the contractor on specifications and laying the foundation for the project, construction will not begin until the grant is awarded.

The work includes a modest expansion, remilling and replacement of blacktop and improvements to hangar areas, Horst said.

The money for Carroll's airport and several other aviation projects nationwide is caught in the budget crunch. Horst has elicited letters of support for Carroll's airport from U.S. Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes and Barbara A. Mikulski.

"Our senators are urging the government to do whatever can be done to restore funding for all these airport projects," said Horst.

Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge said she would enlist lobbying assistance from the Maryland Association of Counties.

Horst said he is convinced federal funding will become available. "The question is whether we will get the money this summer so we can begin the contract work this fall or whether it will come in the next fiscal year," he said. "But I have no doubt there will be funding."

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