Construction Could Start on Airport by 2020

A new airport is coming to Madison County and if all goes well, a groundbreaking could occur within the next five years, County Engineer Rudy Warnock said
last Friday.

Warnock said he was confident the county would overcome the biggest hurdle – receiving approval from the FAA to join the National Plan of Integrated Airport
Systems (NPIAS) – which would allow for federal funding.

“Yes, Madison County will have a new airport placed in the NPIAS,” Warnock wrote in an email to the Journal. “Because of all the politics it has delayed
the project, but I feel that we are addressing those concerns and will be moving forward collectively.”

Warnock and other county officials met with FAA representatives last week to discuss the addition of the proposed county airport in NPIAS.

“The meetings with FAA are going well,” Warnock said. “In our most recent meeting we discussed in detail the justified need for a new airport, the corporations
that are currently located in Madison County, and having to keep their planes at airports located outside of Madison County.”

He added, “We have received an overwhelming number of letters from pilots, aircraft owners and businesses that are very supportive of a new airport to
accommodate their planes in Madison County.”

According to a statement from the FAA, “The FAA and Madison County officials met (May 19). They continued discussing the requirements to establish a new
airport that could be included in (NPIAS). Please contact Madison County for details about their plans.”

When pressed if FAA had made a determination about granting access to NPIAS or not, the agency’s response was, “We are still discussing the matter with
Madison County, the FAA has not made a decision about the project.”

County officials have had a series of meetings with FAA representatives this year.

In January, the FAA said, “According to NPIAS requirements, it will be difficult to justify an additional airport in Madison County. However, the FAA is
reviewing information that the proponents offered.”

Warnock said he hopes to begin soil testing this summer on the top three sites chosen for the airport. From there, he anticipated a short time before construction.

“I expect the project to be ready for a groundbreaking within the next five years,” he said. “We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but if we work
together then it’s possible in the not-too-distant future Madison County will have a first-class business airport that will serve our existing business
and allow us to attract future business that require a business class airport.”

Plans to build a new airport have been ongoing for decades in Madison County, but kickstarted again in 2013 when the Madison County Economic Development
Authority commissioned a top-secret site study to the tune of $1.2 million.

The Journal first exposed the study, dubbed “Project Phoenix,” and how it was offered as a no-bid contract to Warnock, costing 10 times the amount of the
last study done in the 2000s.

In December 2014, Warnock unveiled three locations as possible sites for the new airport, with the top choice costing nearly $50 million.

The top site is about a mile east of Penn’s Fish House off Mississippi 43 south of Canton, near Endris Road and Rankin Road.

The second choice is located in western Madison County in between Battmore Road and Parkinson Road and would cost a projected $43.6 million.

The third choice is located north of Canton between I-55 and U.S. 51 and could cost a projected $62.4 million.

In the past, the FAA has said that in order for the county to build a new airport Madison would have to close Bruce Campbell Field, something the city
has been unwilling to do.

By Michael Simmons

This story originally appeared in the Madison County Journal on Wednesday, May 27, 2015.