The study’s purpose is to see whether it would be a good idea to relocate the Griffin-Spalding County Airport, expand it at its current location or leave it the way it is.
The notion that the airport needs to be reworked is not new. The 2003 Airport Master Plan recommended extending the runway to 5,000 feet in order to accommodate business jets, augmenting the parallel taxiway, constructing additional parking for aircraft and installing a precision landing system. The renovations would have cost $57 million and although a site plan was completed, it was never adopted. The 2003 Georgia System Plan also recommended extending the runway. It also pointed out a region east of Griffin was under-served by Georgia’s general aviation due to distance from airports in Griffin, Milledgeville and Macon.
To narrow down locations for a new airport, consultants from The LPA Group created a set of 14 criteria. Each category was graded on whether the land area was unsuitable, merely acceptable or suitable.
For example, distance from the interstate rendered the western third of Spalding County unacceptable and the middle third of the county only acceptable, while other categories, such as whether or not the location interfered with the flight paths of other nearby airports, had relatively little impact.
When all the criteria were applied to Spalding County, a total of six sites survived the process.
One is near the intersection of Georgia Highway 155 and Jackson Road, two are along North McDonough Road, one is on Georgia Highway 16 near Interstate 75, one is on South McDonough Road and the last one is in the southeastern corner of Spalding County near the border with Lamar County.
Further consideration of the six sites awaits Phase II of the study. Phase II will involve a more detailed site evaluation, analysis of the requirements of industry, and a study of the feasibility of the three options. It will involve estimating the comparative costs, finding a funding plan and continuing public involvement.
The study impressed several members of the audience.
“It was a good, technical evaluation of the potential relocation of the airport,” said Chuck Taylor, community development director for Spalding County.
Allen Marshall, part of the Renaissance Griffin effort and a former member of the Griffin-Spalding Development Authority, agreed with Taylor.
“I thought it was very logical,” he said. “I liked the way they approached it.”
He liked the means by which the consultants ruled out specific locations in order to narrow down the list of possible sites.
“They had a scientific approach to the site selection,” he said.