WALTERS, OK (KSWO) - The Walters Municipal Airport has reopened after its runway got a major overhaul.
The airport was shut down in November while construction crews replaced the edges of the runway because the asphalt was falling apart. Crews also put a leveling coat on the entire length of the runway and then covered it with asphalt to meet the FAA's standards. The final inspection was finished last week, but there is still a little dirt work cleanup to be done. Ultimately, they hope that it will make more pilots want to use the airport and it will increase the number of planes based there.
Walters City Manager John Sheppard says depending on the weather you can see planes take-off from the runway almost daily, which is a trend he hopes will continue.
"The spray business here is very active. We have got a couple of private planes in the other hangar. We have got plenty of space available for hangars, so we are going to look at the possibility of construction on some new hangars and if people are tired of paying very expensive hangar space they might come down to Walters and look at our new runway," Sheppard said.
Right now, there are four planes based out at the airport, including two crop dusters. Sheppard says if they can generate more interest in the airport, they'd like to modify it so different types of planes can land in Walters.
"We'd like to lengthen it and for sure widen it. We have got a full engineering plan already designed to do that. But, we didn't have the money to do that. If we get the interest down here then we can do a lot with it," Sheppard said.
Each year, the airport was given $150,000 from the FAA and set some of that money aside each year for the last four years to pay for the $360,000 renovation. Sheppard says they will no longer receive those funds because of a new requirement that says airports need 10 based aircraft to get grants.
"The money was running out and we really had to jump through some hoops to be able to use the funding here to get this crown back on this runway, and if we get as much time out of this as we did the original stuff on it then we're good for 25 years probably on this runway," Sheppard said.
Sheppard says with $75,000 they have left in the fund from the FAA, they are also going to replace the beacon light. Any leftover funds after that will be returned to the FAA to give to other airports.