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Island Packet: Regional airport in place; no need to build another

Published November 20, 2011

I read with interest about the proposal for a larger airport in Jasper County. I hope to shed light on a formidable resource for general aviation already in operation and in the region the proposed airport would serve.

Just 35 minutes up Interstate 95 in neighboring Colleton County, the Lowcountry Regional Airport in Walterboro is the largest general aviation airport in the state and is more than capable of handling expected growth projections. Featuring three runways from 5,550 feet to 6,007 feet, it’s centrally located between Charleston, Savannah and Beaufort. Yet it was left out of the recent trip sponsored by the S.C. Aeronautics Commission.

It is in an area primed for expansion, with 80 additional acres secured for future runway extension. Its primary runway was recently resurfaced, making it safer for larger jets, including the 737 and Gulfstream 650 jet. An adjoining parallel taxiway was recently constructed to serve increased traffic.

When competition for federal funding is scarce, is a duplicative airport the best use of our resources? According to a March 21 story in The (Charleston) Post and Courier, Scott Seritt of the Federal Aviation Administration estimated a new airport with a 5,000 foot runway would cost $15 million to $35 million.

We need to work together to best utilize and maximize our existing facilities and use any available funding to build where facilities are not already available. Using the existing regional airport not only makes good sense, it’s also far more prudent in these lean financial times.

Mayor Bill Young

Walterboro

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