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Rolla National Airport is integral part of community
The Rolla National Airport may be located in Maries County 13 miles north of Rolla off State Hwy. 28, but its proximity to Rolla doesn’t mean it’s any less of an integral part of the Rolla community.
In fact, the out-of-the-way remote location of the Rolla National Airport (RNA) is actually turning out to be a big advantage to the Rolla community. We all know that airport runways and ancillary buildings require vast amounts of land and that’s exactly what is in large supply at the airport.
To capitalize further on the aviation, industrial, economic development and emergency response possibilities that could be utilized at the RNA, the Rolla City Council approved a resolution at the Aug. 7 City Council meeting for the City to enter into a contract for $139,104 with TranSystems Corporation. The City will pay $18,681 and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) will fund the remaining balance of $124,000.
TranSystems will accomplish the project in two phases. The first phase will consist of the following:
- Performing an Aeronautical Survey of the Rolla National Airport
- Updating the Rolla National Airport Master Plan (including runways, lighting, navigation aides, and developing regulatory guidelines
- Providing aerial photography of the airport
- Providing real estate brokerage services for the proposed industrial development at the Rolla National Airport
The second phase will consist of finding a market niche for Rolla National Airport regarding what kind of businesses would want to locate there. Once that market niche is determined, TranSystems will develop a master plan which identifies the appropriate infrastructure to attract and service those kinds of businesses (which ideally would be related to some aviation type of business).
The significance and value of the RNA to the Rolla community I believe is somewhat under-rated and underappreciated by most folks. It truly is a significant asset to our area in terms of aviation, transportation, homeland security, economic development and future industrial expansion. Another advantage of developing an industrial/business park at RNA, is that it would encourage the growth of additional businesses and industry around the airport. This would ultimately add to Rolla's local and regional economic base.
That's why it is Mayor Bill Jenks' vision and the vision of the Rolla City Council for the RNA to someday develop the 1,200 acres at the airport into not only a first class regional airport, but also into a first class industrial park. The airport, which is a general aviation airport, consists of two 1-mile-long runways that provide an important commuter service for Rolla-based corporations and institutions such as Briggs and Straton, Brewer Science, Missouri Science, Kingsford, the University of Missouri-Rolla and many others. One of the runways has the capacity to be expanded to 9,000 feet, which would allow much larger aircraft to utilize the runway.
There’s an old saying among those in the aviation industry that "a mile of interstate will carry you a mile, but a mile of runway will carry you anywhere in the world." When you think of this statement in terms of how the RNA could further connect our community from not only an aviation commuter standpoint, but from an industrial and economic development aspect, "the sky’s the limit."
During the Aug. 21 City Council meeting the City Council also awarded a contract to Alexander Construction of Rolla to build a new 10-unit T-Hanger at the RNA for $341,734, including bi-fold doors on all the units. This project will be funded 95 percent by MoDOT and 5 percent by the City.
The addition of the new 10-unit hanger will not only increase the number of aircraft based there, but also increase the revenues the City will generate by leasing the hangers to companies and pilots. The recent growth and expansion of the Rolla National Airport is a positive indicator of the industrial and economic development potential of this area. The City is very excited about these developments and what they will ultimately provide the Rolla community.