al.com - November 15, 2011, By Guy Busby, Press-Register
FOLEY, Alabama -- Navy officials have begun efforts to buy property needed to expand two Baldwin County airfields to accommodate new training aircraft.
A Navy training aircraft practices landings at a Baldwin County airfield.
New aircraft will require longer runways on some Baldwin fields. (file photo)
Work is scheduled to start next summer to extend four runways — two at Barin Field in Foley and two at Summerdale Field, according to Navy spokeswoman Susan Brink. The runways are needed to accommodate the T-6A aircraft to be used to train military pilots. The new airplanes better prepare pilots for current military aircraft, but require longer runways.
One of the first purchases takes in about 1.25 acres owned by the city of Foley near Barin Field. The City Council voted to approve the sale of the easement for $95,000.
City officials considered the sale a “win-win” situation for Foley and the Navy, Mayor John Koniar said.
“The land is on the west side of the Beach Express and it didn’t affect anything that we could do out there, so it was no problem for us,” Koniar said Friday.
The Navy plans to buy about 70 parcels for the approaches for the four runways, Brink said. The Navy already owns the land where the runways will be extended. The new purchases are for the approaches, which are the clear areas that will be part of the flight path as student pilots land and take off.
Government officials will be appraising property and working on boundary surveys until March as part of the project. Near the Foley city property, three other private parcels are in negotiation, Brink said.
Bids for construction of the runways are scheduled to be awarded in the summer of 2012.
During construction, other runways at the airfields will still be used for training flights, Lori Aprilliano, public affairs officer for NAS Whiting Field, said.
The extensions at Summerdale and Foley are budgeted at a total of $28 million, Brink said.
The Navy operates several airfields in Baldwin County for training flights out of NAS Whiting Field. Aircraft use fields in Silverhill and Lillian as well as Summerdale and Foley.
All four fields are now used by the T-34 training aircraft, in service with the Navy since 1977. The new T-6s, however, require 4,000 feet of runway for flights with students and instructors and 5,000 feet for solo flights. None of the Baldwin fields now have runways long enough to meet those requirements.
The land the Foley City Council voted to sell to the Navy is in the city’s Industrial Park and is to be part of the flight path for the extended runway. The Navy will pay $95,000 for the property, a price that comes out to about $75,000 an acre.
Navy plans call for property to be appraised this year and purchased in 2011 and 2012. Construction should begin in 2012 and be complete by 2014.
According to the study, Alabama’s historic preservation officer “concurred that there would be no adverse effects on historic properties in the area of potential effects with regard to the proposed action.”
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The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.