More good news for airport

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By Lou Elliott Jones

The Florida Department of Transportation has decided that the George T. Lewis Airport runway should be done in concrete rather than asphalt and will pony up the $300,000 cost difference. 

Levy County Coordinator Fred Moody told the county commission on Tuesday that the DOT will spend over $751,000 on repaving the runway. The county, which owns the airport, does not have to match the money. 

Moody said one consideration is that asphalt runways last about 12 years whereas concrete runways last about 30 years. Moody noted that the Williston airport has concrete runways. 

The only bad news is that the airport will have to be shut down for the work. Moody said the work will be timed so it won't interfere with the airport's heaviest use times. “We'll try to time that all around their big things, but at some point the airport will have to be closed down.”

Plans call for the runway design work to be finished in November and the bids to go out in December and be awarded in February 2014. Construction will start in March 2014 and is expected to be complete by October 2014. 

And that is not the last of the work to be done at the airport. Tuesday, the commissioners also approved a contract with Southeastern Archaeological Research Inc. of Newberry for $7,670.20 to monitor work on the west side of the airport to assure that no  artifacts or significant archaeological finds will be damaged or lost during an erosion control project. 

The state is paying for the project to shore up that end of the airport. Another firm has also been hired to ensure there will be no damage to marshlands. 

In a progress report on the airport, Moody said, the road by the airport that was separated from the runway “is fully constructed now.

“It is now separated from the (airport) property.” The road had led to confused motorists driving onto the runway and even some joggers coming onto the taxiway.