Sussex County Airport runway reopens

Georgetown, Del., May 16, 2014: The Sussex County Airport’s main runway is taxied and ready for takeoff after a six-week maintenance project kept it closed to all aircraft.

Crews this week have been putting the finishing touches on a $4.7 million project to repave and repaint the main runway at the facility east of Georgetown. The 5,500-foot-long main runway, which reopened late Thursday night, May 15, had been closed since April 9 to allow construction crews to mill the main surface and lay down 15,000 tons of new asphalt that is 2 inches thick. An adjoining shorter runway remained open during construction for smaller planes.

The paving project is part of an overall $8.8 million effort to make a variety of improvements at the airport, including enhanced lighting, obstruction removal, and a main runway extension. That extension – which brought the main runway’s total length up from 5,000 to 5,500 feet – was completed in fall 2013. The federal government has funded at least 90 percent of all costs.

“This repaving project should make for a smoother and cleaner surface for aircraft to land on and take off from,” said Jim Hickin, director of airport and industrial park operations. “Just like a home, a car, or even an aircraft, you have to keep up on maintenance, and that’s what this was.”

The repaving project is the first time the runway surfaced has been upgraded since 1994, and has a life expectancy of 20 years, Mr. Hickin said.

The general aviation airport, owned by Sussex County, records as many as 35,000 landings and take-offs annually from aircraft ranging in size from single-engine planes up to Boeing 737s.


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