By Jeff Mullin, Senior Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Oklahoma Transportation Commission on Monday awarded the city of Enid $500,000 for relocation of part of East Southgate, just south of Enid Woodring Regional Airport.
A stretch of the road will be moved to the south as part of the project lengthening Woodring’s main runway to 8,000 feet.
The OTC funds will pay for the bulk of the road relocation, which is expected to cost $533,000, said Mike Cooper, city of Enid military liaison. The road will be moved to the south to accommodate the lengthened runway.
“This pretty much covers the cost of the road,” said Cooper.
The project will lengthen Woodring’s primary runway some 2,300 feet, to 8,000 feet. Having a longer runway will allow Woodring to accommodate not only larger civilian aircraft, but military planes as well, including T-38s from Vance Air Force Base.
“Not only does it give them (the Air Force) increased mission capability, but it also helps them cut costs,” said Cooper.
T-6s and T-1s from Vance Air Force Base already use Woodring for regular operations, and often must be diverted to land there because of strong crosswinds or threatening storms.
Lengthening the runway also would allow T-38s to land and take off there, not to mention other Air Force planes from other bases.
Currently, if Vance T-38s must be diverted, their closest landing fields are Tinker AFB, Tulsa International Airport, the former Clinton-Sherman AFB or Wichita Mid-Continent Airport — or, in case of emergency, Kegelman Auxiliary Field near Jet.
With a longer runway, other Air Education and Training Command bases could use Woodring as a destination for students and instructors conducting cross-country training flights on weekends.
In addition, a longer runway would have economic development implications for Enid, since it would accommodate larger corporate jets and would make Woodring attractive to a potential return to commercial air service, not locally available since 2006.
An 8,000-foot runway would be the longest in northwest Oklahoma.
Plans are to let and accept bids for the road project in the spring, and to break ground this summer. The runway project is expected to be completed in late 2014. The goal is to have it finished by the time Vance’s outside runway is shut down for replacement sometime in 2015.
The city already has received $260,000 from Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission to help fund the project, as well as $2.5 million from Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission. The airport will receive $450,000 from Federal Aviation Administration over the next three years.
“This is a great project,” Cooper said. “It will save a lot of money and enhance the mission, and it will all be done with community, state and federal level assistance.”