County Administrator J. Chappell Hurst updated council on the status of the taxiway during last week’s county council meeting.
The renovation project includes the construction of a new terminal building, work on the entrance to the county airport and the construction of ten T-hangars and 6 box hangars.
“The current taxiway leading to the area where the box hangars are supposed to be built is too close to the existing hangars,” Hurst said.
Originally, county official had planned to place smaller aircraft in that area of the airport, but the box hangars, once complete, will house much larger aircraft with much bigger wingspans, Hurst said.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires certain clearances between structures and taxiways, he said.
“In order to gain that (clearance), we’re going to have to move that taxiway over, away from there, by about 25 feet,” Hurst said. “We’re going to have to fill in that area. It’s a lot of dirt.”
The county will either do the fill work itself or bid out the project, depending on the final size of the project, Hurst said.
After meeting with state and FAA officials, Hurst said the state agreed to fund 60 percent of the needed cost to raise the taxiway to a certain elevation, after which the FAA would fund 95 percent of the remaining cost.
“We believe that we’re going to have enough funding to accomplish this,” he said. “It’s going to be very close.”
County council previously allocated $1 million for the hangar project, Hurst said.
“We still have over $600,000 in that account,” he said. “We have some estimates on the cost of the buildings that are a lot less than $600,000.”
Council members hope that renovating the airport will increase tourist and business traffic — and revenue — to Pickens County.
Before the ten T-hangars were even completed, all ten hangars had tenants, and a waiting list was set up due to the high demand for airplane storage, Hurst said previously.
According to a survey by the state Division of Aeronautics, the Pickens County Airport contributes more than $10 million to the local economy, directly or indirectly.
Council took no action on the taxiway issue last week.