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Idea of New Sanford Airport Taking Off

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A new airport would continue to service small to mid-sized aircraft.
SANFORD — Sanford has an airport. It's not huge. It services small to mid-sizedairplanes. Talk of building a new airport has been flying around Sanfordfor years with significant opposition to the idea at first. Now,construction has started. The question is, why?

Welcome to final approach at the Sanford-Lee County Regional Airport, anairport that won't be completed until spring of 1999. The whole projectcosts a whopping $13.7 million dollars. And while most of that will bepaid with state and federal money, $715,000 dollars will be split betweentaxpayers in Lee County and the city of Sanford.

With Sanford's current airport located 10 miles closer to town and only alittle smaller than the proposed airport, why build a new one?

"The current airport is not adaptable to the needs to serve as a relieverairport for Raleigh-Durham and the general aviation aircraft," explainsHerb Hincks of the Sanford Airport Authority.

Relief for RDU? It's an interesting reason to build an airport accordingto fixed base operators at the international airport. They say they don'tneed relief now and won't need relief any time soon.

"As far as ramp space and runway capacity, we have plenty of that,"says Gary Wilser of the Raleigh Flying Service. "And 1999 should be thesame? In 1999 the situation will improve somewhat. We'll have newfacilities by 1999 which will increase our capacity."

Still, the new Regional Airport is on the way. Sanford airport authoritymembers admit it was a tough sell, and they continue to insist that thenew airport will help the area take off.