Sussex County Airport Searches for Funding for Runway Expansion - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Sussex County Airport Searches for Funding for Runway Expansion

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GEORGETOWN, De. - The Sussex County Airport is looking to expand their runway another 500 feet to 6,000 ft., but the question is where they will find the money to do so. The Federal Aviation Administration typically funds 90 percent of these projects. But with the latest project, they've announced they will not be contributing. 

The runway expansion will cost approximately $5 million. The airport has received $3 million in grants, but as of now the remaining $2 million is unaccounted for. Sussex County Airport Manager Jim Hickin explained to WBOC the challenges with the project. 

"The big obstacle for us is FAA funding," he said. "Normally, they'll contribute 90 percent of the project funds for the things we do out here. The problem with this extension, is that we can't justify it using the FAA's criteria."

And Hickin said that is the catch 22 of the situation. The county wants a longer runway to attract larger planes. But the FAA will not fund these projects because they said there are not enough large planes landing at the airport. 

Before the expansion can even begin, the state needs to move an adjacent road, which could take years to complete. Park Avenue is a multi-million dollar project as well, however the Delaware Department of Transportation will be responsible for this project. 

However, the gap in funding remains for the actual extension. John Martin, the owner of PATS Aircraft Systems said the extension would be crucial for business. 

"It will enable us to put a larger aircraft here at the Sussex County Airport," he said.

Martin stood in front of a large, green 737. However, he said they could move on to bigger and better things with the extension. He said the 500 feet would open the door to larger 757s. He said this change would mean jobs. 

"Securing a new business with the 757s," he said. "I'm estimating that we could create about 100 jobs for Sussex County." 

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