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Mckellar-Sipes Regional Airport set to rebuild runway, operate with just one in the meantime


Some major remodeling is in the near future for a runway at McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport!

For 20 years, there’s been talk about replacing the long runway because of damage under the surface.

“To the point where the Department of Transportation says, we've got to fix this. It's time to do this. So for the last five years, we've been working on all of the different plans," Jackson-Madison County Airport Authority Executive Director Steve Smith.

Now the Jackson-Madison County Airport Authority finally has a plan to replace the runway that was built in 1942.

“When we come out of this project, it will be 100 feet wide and 6000 feet long. And that'll be the basis for where we'll start in the future. But this will be an absolutely new runway, new subsurface. Everything will be built from below the ground out," Smith said.

Airport Authority Executive Director Steve Smith added the project will be paid for mostly through grants from Tennessee and the Federal Aviation Association. Madison County will be responsible for a five percent match.

The Airport Authority is still awaiting the final price of the project that has to be done now, Smith says, “The timing is just really not the greatest, but looking at where we are and what we anticipate over the next five years, then the best time is now.”

Smith and the Airport Authority hope that the project will begin in July, “We figure 60 days for the short crossing area and then four months to five months to finish the remainder of it with the runway signs and the new lighting and all of that," He said.

During construction, only the small runway will be used. Private and Commercial flights can run as scheduled, but large jets will not be able to land or take off during the 6-month project.

Smith says it’s unfortunate that the jets Blue Oval City, Georgia Pacific and Tyson Foods that have been using the airport will have to use another in the meantime, but in the long run, he thinks it's worth the wait.

“Well, there's no doubt that a smoother, clean, better runway is what anybody that flies a 30, 40, $50 million jet looking for. They're looking for the best product that we can put forward," said Smith.

The runway isn’t the only project that Mckellar-Sipes Regional Airport is working on. The airport is seeking a grant to redo the control tower which hasn’t seen any major upgrade since 1995. The Airport Authority is building a new access road now. And plans to build new hangers over the next five years.

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