Proposal calls for realignment of Austin near airport

Relocating a portion of the recently-widened Austin Boulevard is being discussed as officials seek to enhance the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport’s runway, possibly by expanding it.

Officials are examining a multi-million plan to realign a section of Austin Boulevard north of the airport to allow aircraft greater use of the runway or perhaps adding 500 feet to the 5,000-feet landing strip, said Terry Slaybaugh, director of aviation at Dayton International Airport, which owns Dayton-Wright Brothers.

“We want to look at how we can protect the long-term viability of the airport,” he said.

Realigning Austin to address the runway is part of the airport’s 20-year master plan as officials seek to accommodate larger and more corporate aircraft, Slaybaugh said.

The plan, which will be discussed Wednesday, also calls for realigning taxiways, and addressing hangar space and other land use issues, including attracting more commercial development to the airport, Slaybaugh said.

The realignment of Austin north of the airport was initially included in the plan when the road was widened from Ohio 741 to Washington Church Road, said Steve Stanley, executive director of the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District. The realignment, however, was not included in the $5.1 million project completed in 2011 because of lack of funds, said Paul Gruner, Montgomery County engineer.

The realignment of that portion of Austin is contingent upon several factors, including public reaction and availability of funding, Slaybaugh said. He acknowledged that proposing to rework a portion of Austin that has recently been improved may cause opposition to the plan.

“We could come out of this process and put the plan on the shelf for 20 years,” Slaybaugh said. “Or there may come a time in the next 10 years when the maintenance needs on the road” make the proposal more likely.

Landing aircraft now can utilize only 4,500 feet of the runway because of clearance of surrounding properties near the airport, which is landlocked by road, businesses and residential development.

Relocating Austin “is really about making the existing runway safer – if we can provide 500 more feet for airplanes to stop on. The biggest restriction is going to be the road. The road limits the planes’ ability to land at the end of the runway.”

Expanding the runway – or at least its space for landing – will improve the airport’s ability to attract more corporate aircraft and commercial development, Slaybaugh said. He noted that some companies may have regulations that prohibit them landing at the airport.

“We have planes that come in there now on 4,500 feet … that are basically limited because of stopping distance,” he said. “They’re right on the edge. It basically will make it safer and we may get more business.”

The Connor Group has three aircraft at the airport, said company spokesman Ryan Ernst. The company this summer opened its $18 million headquarters there, signing a 40-year lease in a move its owner sees as a catalyst for attracting businesses to the area.

“That is our hope, that this can be an igniter to convince other businesses to locate not only at the airport, but locate in this region,” Larry Connor, managing partner of the company, said last month.