The N.C. Board of Transportation has awarded $3.96 million to Wilkes County government for improvements to the Wilkes County Airport.

County officials received notice of the funding in a June 6 letter from Bobby Walston, DOT director of aviation.

The funding requires a $440,000 match (10 percent) from county government, which the Wilkes County commissioners included in the 2019-20 budget they approved on June 4.

County Manager John Yates had $300,000 as the local match in the budget he initially recommended. When contractor bids submitted for the work came in about $1 million higher than expected at about $4.2 million over a month ago, the state agreed to provide additional funding and the county agreed to put up another $100,000 as the local match.

The work at the airport includes removing direct access to the runway, adding wider turning areas and resurfacing the asphalt taxiway. According to a DOT news release, this will bring the airport up to date with current Federal Aviation Administration standards.

Approval of a bid for the work is on the agenda for the xcounty commissioners meeting Tuesday night.

“This will benefit our airport and our community significantly,” said Wilkes County Airport Manager Robert Gross.

“Larger aircraft will now fly here directly and use this airport. People will be able to do business in Wilkesboro, Boone, Sparta and other communities without having to fly in somewhere else and make the drive up.”

Meanwhile, county officials say they are continuing efforts to secure state and federal funding for a 1,000-foot-long extension of the runway to accommodate larger aircraft.

County officials said Samaritan’s Purse asked the county to extend the runway length to 7,200 feet to accommodate larger aircraft flown by the Christian relief ministry.

The N.C. Board of Transportation also approved $200,000 in additional funding for a partial parallel taxiway design to go along with an existing grant for apron expansion design at the Elkin Municipal Airport.

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