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$1.8 million airport project to break ground

Airport Director Dave Garris presents blueprints of the Johnson County Airport and outlines the proposed update to County Mayor Mike Taylor during a Budget Committee meeting. Photo by Meg Dickens.

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

The Johnson County Airport has been talking about a facility update to increase overall safety for a while. The current runway reportedly has blind spots that could be hazardous. Now Airport Director Dave Garris has approval from the Johnson County Commission’s Budget Committee to pursue his parallel taxiway project in the upcoming fiscal year.

“We’ve got an opportunity and a situation all at once,” Garris explained. “The situation is that the airport is growing, and we’ve got an opportunity to install a parallel taxiway that goes down from the midfield ramp area all the way down to the prominent end of the runway on Runway 24.”

This taxiway is not new news. Blueprints have the strip set as a future parallel taxiway dating back to 1968. The current system has worked so far, but Garris seems nervous that luck will run out. Natural obstructions could easily lead to a collision with the current setup.

“The reason why this is important is, one, it is a safety hazard for an aircraft to go out onto an active runway and taxi down,” Garris broke down the issue. “On the approach to this runway, there are mountains that go in between Cabbage Patch Lane. On approach, you can’t see the runway, so you can’t see an obstruction. It’s becoming more and more evident that planes are coming around the corner, and someone is on the runway, so they have to go around. Sooner or later, that might cause a problem. “

According to Garris, this is the first time he has asked for budget money in five years. This project will cost a total of $1.8 million with a local share of $55,000. Garris assured the committee that it is a “good possibility” he will not even need that money. County Director of Accounts and Budgets Russell Robinson plans to set aside airport reserve funds for the project in case possible grants fall through.

To find out more about the airport, visit the Johnson County Airport Facebook page or call (423) 727-1223. The website is under construction at the time of this article. Find out more about county government at