By Megan Rule | Staff Writer
A public information workshop last week updated the Waco community on the progress and direction of the Waco Regional Airport master plan.
“The master plan is literally a plan to help us identify what we need,” said Joel Martinez, director of aviation at Waco Regional Airport. “As the funds become available, that’s when we act on those project lists. So we’ll start as early as next year, but again the master plan is just mapping out the next 15 years’ worth of projects for how our facility will progress. It will be an ongoing thing.”
The meeting was held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday at the airport terminal building. Martinez said the meeting focused on recommendations in terms of infrastructure for the airport. Martinez reviewed a list of about 30 various projects to consider for construction, as well as budgeting for the projects. Martinez said a major focus and the next project was to relocate runway 1432 by moving it to the north to eliminate a safety area concern.
“I’m currently identifying projects and securing funds to complete those projects, whether that is acquisition of properties or drainage plans and implementing that,” Martinez said. “Implementation is what my focus will be once the plan is complete.”
Martinez also said there has not been any imposing feedback that he is aware of up to this point. There has been a lot of public interest, he said. The meeting last Thursday had about 15 members of the general public present to participate, review and discuss sketches and recommendations, Martinez said. The target for finishing the master plan is still set for June.
“A big part of the master plan was to bring the community in on the planning aspect of the airport,” Martinez said. “I hope the community and those involved recognize going forward that this project was discussed, and they remember why we need that.”
A representative from the Federal Aviation Administration was also present at the meeting and had no glaring feedback, so Martinez believes they are moving in the right direction.
“With upcoming construction and hopeful improvements, I’d definitely consider traveling via the Waco airport because I don’t have a car, and getting a ride there would be a lot easier than commuting to Dallas,” Columbia, Tenn., freshman Micaela Freeman said. “Disregarding connecting flights, I’d be one to try out the Waco airport. I’ve heard nothing but positives about it in the past.”
In October, the airport announced the creation of the master plan in order to implement changes over the next 20 years. The master plan considers various ideas for construction, relocation and generating income from expanding the runway and parking area. Walker Partners, Coffman Associates, Martinez Geospatial and DKMG Consulting are all working on the project.
Jacob Bell, client manager for Walker Partners, told the Lariat in October about the creation of the master plan, a 20-year road map that looks at alternatives for the construction of the airport. Engineers working on the project plan to work with the Federal Aviation Administration to keep the Waco Regional Airport up to standard, in addition to related renovations.The master plan is done in five-year increments, with the next five years already planned. The project will move forward after the next five years, focusing first on safety, then expansion.
“As an out-of-state student, the Waco airport tends to be my first reunion with Baylor and Waco,” Peoria, Ill., freshman Lindsay Walton said. “It is currently very small and kind of dated. I am excited for it to be refurbished so that when my friends and family fly down to visit, the good impression of Baylor begins when they touch down.”