Q&A with Jonathon Vrabel, Director of the Morgantown Municipal Airport
The Morgantown Municipal Airport Runway Extension Project is in full swing. Various community entities have taken part in the 1,001-foot runway extension and I-68 Commerce Park planning, a project that’s been over 10 years in the making.
Jonathon Vrabel, Director of the Morgantown Municipal Airport (MGW), recently sat down for a behind-the-scenes Q&A providing a deeper insight into the MGW Runway Extension Project and its history.
Q 1: What is the history behind the MGW Runway Extension Project?
Talk of a runway extension began more than 10 years ago as airport tenants requested a longer runway for aircraft operation. Understanding that the airport may lose carriers due to its runway length, the team at MGW knew a solution that could help.
Since that time, the airport has pushed for a runway extension. What began as a conversation turned into action as representatives worked to get approval from the City of Morgantown and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and request federal funding.
“The reality of the Runway Extension Project really didn’t happen until the Runway Extension Project team started the Benefit/Cost Analysis back in 2011, followed by the Environmental Assessment (EA), which began in June 2013,” said Vrabel.
The FAA accepted the Environmental Assessment in 2019. You can see the full document here.
“Once the FAA accepted the EA,” said Vrabel, “the team went into the design phase for the project, which led to bidding for the first phase, the Groundbreaking, construction on Phase 1, and Phase 2 bidding, which is our most recent development.
Q 2: How will the runway extension improve airport safety?
“Extending the runway provides extra length for departure and arrival safety,” said Vrabel.
Vrabel explained how the longer runway will create space for smoother takeoffs and landings and offer extra room to stop an airplane if an issue arises during landing.
In addition to added safety comes the opportunity for aircraft to fly further distances, for the longer runway will allow heavier fuel loads in aircraft.
Q 3: How has the community come together in support of this project?
During the Benefit/Cost Analysis process, the City of Morgantown reached out to local entities to share the project’s goals and garner their support. Representatives from MGW and the City spoke with various community partners to raise awareness and champion the project.
Through the conversations about the Runway Extension Project and its mission, the project received support from West Virginia University, the Monongalia County Commission, The Morgantown Area Partnership, Star City, and the City of Westover.
The City of Morgantown and MGW greatly appreciate the community’s continued support in this infrastructural advancement. “These entities all provided support because they saw the vision of the opportunity the Runway Extension Project would provide to this area,” said Vrabel.
Q 4: How does the I-68 Commerce Park play into the MGW Runway Extension Project?
Durable rock is currently being excavated from the site on which the I-68 Commerce Park will reside. With construction in its beginning stages, crews are onsite moving rock and using it as fill for the Runway Extension land, thus creating the future home of the Commerce Park.
Vrabel mentioned how the Commerce Park “will help grow the economy around this part of town.” He added that the Monongalia County Development Authority plays a significant role in the Commerce Park’s creation, noting how they will review various types of businesses that could take residence at the location in the future.
“Some of the businesses that can locate in the Commerce Park can be tied to aviation,” said Vrabel.
It is important to note that the Commerce Park will be close to MGW, which is ideal for businesses interested in utilizing daily flights for one-day business trips.
Q 5: What are you most looking forward to about the Runway Extension Project’s completion?
“I’m looking forward to opportunities to grow aviation in the community,” said Vrabel.
Vrabel hopes that the runway extension will bring more aviation-focused business to Morgantown and its surrounding communities, promoting growth, enriching the economy, and creating opportunity in the City of Morgantown and beyond.
Interested in learning more about the MGW Runway Extension Project? Check out project updates here.
MGW serves North Central West Virginia and surrounding areas. It offers daily flights operated by Southern Airways Express to Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) in Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) in Pennsylvania.