NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, (WMBF) –One of the oldest airports in South Carolina is getting a facelift.
The Grand Strand Airport in North Myrtle Beach is critical to the general aviation system to serve corporate and private aircraft use, according to Kirk Lovell, Director of Air Service and Business Development.
Lovell said the Grant Strand Airport or “CRE” has an annual economic impact of $43.5 million and it generates $1.8 million in tax revenue. “So it’s a vital asset to obviously Horry County, but the Grand Strand and North Myrtle Beach.
Some of it is directly related to the airport and the indirect is obviously people going to eat and the jobs it generates and so forth,” Lovell stated.
Because of the airport’s old age, a runway rehabilitation project is in the works. The South Carolina Aeronautics Commission recently did an economic impact study of all airports, and federal grant money is going toward the rehab project.
Lovell said, “It’s about an 8.5 million dollar project funded by the FAA, South Carolina Aeronautics Commission and Horry County Departments of Airports, no local tax dollars were used for the project.”
The rehab work entails changing the current asphalt runway to a concrete runway to extend life use and lighting improvements will also be made. During the project, which is expected to last 81 days total, the runway will shut down and only single-engine aircraft is allowed.
Lovell added, “We will be using a parallel taxiway for a temporary runway, anything bigger has to go to Horry County Conway, Loris Airport or Myrtle Beach International.”
There are no commercial flights in and out of CRE, it’s used mainly for general aviation like corporate and private aircraft. Lovell added, “You got a lot of famous people who use that airport and FBO [Fixed Base Operator] because they may have property up there or maybe flying in to play golf and the proximity to the golf courses is very close, so you got a little bit of a different flavor up there and it’s still the high-end clientele.”
By September 5th all vehicles had to be moved to the new long-term parking lot because of the batch construction staging site. Lovell said, “The pilots and aircraft owners store the vehicles up there so when they fly in they have a car, well those cars have to be relocated because the batch plant where all the concrete is going into is in that parking lot.”
October 1, 2018, is the tentative start date for the project, but Lovell said the airport is still waiting for a ‘notice to proceed’ signature from the contractor and then hard dates will be set.
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