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Asheville Regional Airport breaks ground on $64 million airfield project

On August 8, 2014 Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) broke ground on the biggest construction project since the airport was originally built, titled Project SOAR:  Significant Opportunity for Aviation and the Region.  The 5-year, 4-phase project, slated for completion some time in 2018, will result in a new replacement runway, a second taxiway and 40+ acres of land suitable for aeronautical development.

“This is a milestone event,” said Lew Bleiweis, A.A.E., Asheville Regional Airport’s Executive Director.  “This day is one that will be remembered 50 years from now as a major step that helped position western North Carolina for additional growth in aviation.”

The airport’s runway is being replaced for three reasons.  First, the existing runway (which is 50+ years old) is nearing the end of its useful life and will require major reconstruction to continue its use into the future. Second, the existing runway and taxiway at AVL are slightly closer together than the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) now requires – standards put in place long after the AVL runway was constructed.  The third reason for the project relates to the airport's 20+ year master plan.  Upon completion of the new airfield, AVL will have land suitable for new aeronautical development, accessible to the runway on the new west-side taxiway.

Because the runway is nearing the end of its useful life (within the next 5 years), the FAA has agreed that it is now time to pursue this project at Asheville Regional Airport – one that will result in a runway that meets current standards, and one that will carry air service for western North Carolina into the future for the next 50+ years.

FAA and North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) grant funds, as well as airport funds intended for aviation system improvements, will cover the $64 million cost. The airport is not funded by local taxpayers, so no local tax funds will be involved in this project.

“The Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority Board works diligently to make solid decisions now that will carry the airport forward to meet our region’s growing air service needs, and equally important, our region’s potential,” said Bob Roberts, Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority Board Chair.  “It is exciting to think about the opportunities for future business development that will be made possible by this significant project.”

The celebration also came at an appropriate time, as Asheville Regional Airport saw a solid year of passenger growth, up 14% compared to the previous year.  The growth substantiates projections used to develop the airport’s 20 year master plan, in which Project SOAR is a major part.

To learn more details and to view a short video about Project SOAR, visit www.flyavl.com.

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