Future projects taking flight?

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Airport upgrading for regulations, possible return of commuter flights

By John Friedlein

By JOHN FRIEDLEIN jfriedlein@thenewsenterprise.com


ELIZABETHTOWN — A recently announced federal grant for runway signage at Elizabethtown Regional Airport is another step toward preparing the facility for a possible return of commuter flights.

The guidance signs for pilots, bought with more than $68,000 in Federal Aviation Administration money, will be part of a general upgrade to keep the airport in line with federal standards, and they will be necessary if an airline were to locate here, Airport Board Chairman Joe Yates said.

While the bad economy isn’t helping with recruitment, Yates said he hopes to have a service here in two or three years.

“We’re progressing,” he said. Until then, other pilots will benefit from the upgrades.

“We’ve got an awful lot of business jet traffic,” Yates said.

Also, if airport officials receive a commitment from a commuter service, they plan to move forward with construction of a $3.5 million passenger terminal.

Elizabethtown had commuter flights in the 1980s.

In another major project, this one costing about $1 million, workers recently cleared land around the runways, Yates said.

With the ground smoother and obstacles removed, a pilot who leaves the runway will have an easier time recovering.

Airport manager Roger Lawson has a wish list of other projects, which include security fencing and lighting. He said he would also like the airport to receive funding for a glide slope device that will provide pilots with descent information to help keep their planes on a proper path. The FFA could foot part of the bill, and Lawson said he hopes the project will receive an earmark in the federal budget.

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, will be a “strong voice” on the House Aviation Subcommittee “to make sure Washington is listening to the needs of Elizabethtown and the Second District,” Nate Hodson, Guthrie spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Guthrie last week announced the signage grant, which was competitive.

He called it “great news” in a news release. And he said he is “pleased that this airport will be able to upgrade their facility to promote economic growth for Hardin County.”

 John Friedlein can be reached at 505-1746.