Henry County is embarking on a $4 million expansion of its newly-renamed airport.
The expansion, which is expected to take a year, is the second phase of work being done at the Hampton-based airport that was renamed Henry County Airport earlier this month.
The second phase involves buying land from Atlanta Motor Speedway and a private owner to add acreage to the front of the airport’s sole runway. The plan also calls for relocating a road and coming up with a design that will put into use one section of the runway that had been unusable due to the road.
Last week in a special-called meeting, county commissioners approved setting aside $2.2 million to be used to buy land from the Atlanta Motor Speedway. About 90 percent of that money will be reimbursed by the federal government, once the courts decide how much the county should pay the speedway for the land. The two parties are currently at odds over the price. The county used eminent domain to pursue the purchase.
“We haven’t agreed on a price. (So) It appears it’s going to end up in court,” speedway president Ed Clark said Tuesday.
The county finished the first phase – a $3.8 million expansion of the runway in 2013, making the runway 5,503 feet-long by 100 feet wide, the airport’s director Michael Toney said.
Now the second phase is underway and once Mt. Pleasant Road is relocated further east, construction should begin on making the unusable section of the runway usable, he said. That would be a third phase.
“Once we get done with the roadway relocation and safety improvements to the runway, one of the things we’re looking to do with the capital improvement plan is to extend (the runway) again,” Toney told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday.
Plans to extend the runway another 750 feet and add instrument landing capabilities are at least another two years away, Toney said.
“That would beef up a lot of your corporate travel. It might even provide some relief into Hartsfield (Jackson International Airport) or other airports on the southside such as PDK,” Toney said. All of those plans would need to be studied further he added.
The airport currently sees about six to 10 corporate jets a week, Toney said. The general aviation community uses the airport. It is heavily used during race week in the spring, Toney said.
The airport, initially known as Tara Field, is a public-use county airport that straddles the Henry-Clayton county line. Henry bought the Hampton-based airport from Clayton in August 2011 for $17.7 million and renamed it Atlanta South Regional Airport later that year.
“It was purchased to boost and support the economy in Henry County,” Commission Chairman Tommy Smith said.