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Morgantown seeking $30 million for runway project

MORGANTOWN — The city of Morgantown is asking Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito to provide a major shot in the arm for the Morgantown Municipal Airport runway extension project. 

The city is requesting $45.5 million in earmarks, or congressionally directed spending, from the state’s congressional representatives. 

The majority of that is a $30 million ask for the runway project. 

“We need to become more aggressive in trying to finish that runway sooner rather than later,” City Manager Kim Haws said. “I think the waiting game is a losing game.” 

The numbers bear that out.  

Federal allocations to the project have consistently come in below the city’s expectations. Smaller allocations lengthen the timeline and inflate the cost.  

So far, the city has spent $14 million. 

At this rate, projections indicate it’ll likely take another $48 million — $62 million total —to add 1,001 feet to the runway. 

“The currently high inflation and the small amounts of funds that have been received from the FAA has driven the price up.  The small funding amounts have caused multiple redesigns and repackaging of the phases to be completed, which has increased the costs of the project,” Airport Director Jon Vrabel told The Dominion Post. 

“Due to these smaller phases, there has also been a loss of economies of scale which would have been produced in contractor pricing and bidding.” 

Haws said past requests have focused solely on the safety component of a longer runway. This time around, the city leaned heavily into the economic development impact the extension project represents for the city, county and region.  

“We don’t think we’re overdoing it. We’ve made a good case,” he said, later adding, “If we can get the $30 million, once that’s been allocated it’s hard not to reinvest in something you’ve already given $30 million to. That’s why this is so important.” 

South Side Fire Station 

The city is also seeking $4 million in congressionally directed spending to further assist with the relocation and construction of a new Morgantown Fire Department Station 1. 

Haws said the city is finalizing the purchase of property at the corner of Don Knotts Boulevard and Prairie Avenue to be the station’s future home. 

That project took off in January 2023 after the city learned Capito and Manchin were sending $6 million its way for a new South Side Fire Station.  

“As we’ve gone through the design process, the original amount we applied for is far below what the expected cost is going to be. We all know what’s happened with costs over time,” Haws said.  

If additional funding is provided, it will allow an expanded design to include training rooms, training mezzanine and expansion of the apron and parking lot for training purposes. 

Other requests 

The city is also seeking: 

  • $4 million to construct a pedestrian bridge over Don Knotts Boulevard, connecting White Park and the riverfront. 
  • $3 million to help develop a greenbelt connector, promoting urban forest/canopy by creating green corridors for hiking and biking trails. 
  • $2 million for approximately three miles of rail-trail lighting. 
  • $2 million to establish and fund a Downtown Historic District Revitalization Subgrant Program to promote restoration and renovation of historic buildings and streetscape designs. 
  • $500,000 to purchase and install two generators — one in the Morgantown Public Safety Building and one in the renovated Norwood Fire Station. 

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