A piece of land just northwest of the intersection of U.S. 281 and U.S. 50 has been chosen as a site for a new airport in Stafford County.

A location has been chosen for a future airport in Stafford County. The area northwest of the intersection of U.S. 281 and U.S. 50 has been chosen for the site.

The land is a quarter section, 160 acres, and already belongs to Stafford County. However, more land will have to be purchased to give enough room for a concrete runway, said Stafford County Economic Director Carolyn Dunn who is lending her time to help coordinate the project with the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The location study was finalized on Feb. 8. The draft was given to the civil engineering firm of Olsson and Associates for final feedback before the draft. They performed the site selection analysis and wrote the final report that was given to KDOT for their approval.

This is just one step in a multi-year process to establish a new airport in Stafford County. It will take a number of years to complete the process and get an airport, Dunn said.

Next on the road to a new airport is for the county commissioners to decide if they want to continue project and go into the design phase. If they do decide to continue, they would work to get a 95-5 percent matching grant from KDOT to do the design phase. But the commissioners have not committed to submitting an application yet.

A KDOT grant was also used during the location process. The KDOT grant has taken care of the lion's share of the cost of the project. While the grants have paid for most of the cost, the county still has to pay their five percent and commissioners will have to review the budget before making a decision to proceed with the project.

One location that was also considered for the airport was an area between old U.S. 50 and the current U.S. 50. However, there were limitations that eliminated that choice. Because of the limited space between the two highways, it would have required shutting down old highway 50 and there were many people who said they didn't want that, Dunn said.

Part of the location consideration was that Kansas Department of Transportation wanted a new facility that could handle fixed wing aircraft for medical emergencies and that would require a concrete runway.

There were a lot of issues to consider when selecting a location. What impact will highway traffic and railroad traffic have on the site? Cell towers are one of the worst obstacles for the airport and there are a few in the area along with power lines. Even the impact of agriculture is being studied.

"With all factors considered, that (northwest of 281 and 50) was determined to be the most favorable spot," Dunn said.

Public meetings are required in this process and four have been held with more coming as the project progresses. At the last meeting, pilots were invited to come and give their input on what was important for the location from their point of view.

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