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Economy and Business

How many airports does Ohio need, and how many can it afford?
With scores of small airports, Ohio tries to come up with a formula to divvy up funds that are getting tighter

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
David Price of the Ashtabula County Airport Authority and county Commissioner Joe Moroski say small airports are an economic boon, but other say some of the airports are too many and too clustered.
Courtesy of M.L. Schultze
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In The Region:

Ohio has more than 100 public airports.  Regulators are trying to figure out how to distribute limited state and federal funding among them, and how these small airports fit together. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports a hearing today drew aviation advocates, and a few skeptics from around Northeast Ohio.

Schultze: How many airports is too many airports

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Schultze: What ODOT will consider

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When you think about airports in Ohio, set aside, for now, the Cleveland Hopkinses, Port Columbuses, the Akron-Cantons. The focus of meetings the Ohio Department of Transportation is holding around the state is on places like the Lost Nation Airport and Henry Clever Field.

They’re among Ohio’s 97 “general aviation” airports – the ones that service private planes, cargo, even gliders, but not the major airlines.

And the state is launching an inventory of these airfields, trying to measure things like their economic impact and physical condition.

Economic boon or drain?
Ashtabula County Commissioner Joe Moroski attended the regional meeting in Brecksville. He says the airports boost the economy – from fly fishing tourists to oil and gas drillers -- in places like his far corner of Northeast Ohio.

“The focus in ODOT seems to be on ground transportation, and it seems to have left general aviation not out of the picture completely, but I think it’s a much more integral part than many people understand.”

Just to the west of Ashtabula is Lake County’s Lost Nation airport, about 8.5 miles from Cuyahoga County’s airport. And 17.5 miles from Burke Lakefront, and not too far from Cleveland Hopkins

Bruce Landeg got elected to Mentor City Council in part by advocating that Lost Nation be transformed into industrial use.  And, in the room full of airport advocates, he repeated his skepticism the airport makes sense.

“I greatly respect their passion for aviation, but I just think we have limited dollars and it has to be spent in the right places. If we keep spending on multiple airports that may be surplus aviation infrastructure, and we do that on all levels of the government in this country, we’re not going to have anything to give our children and grandchildren.”

The study is only starting
The results of the study will go to the Federal Aviation Administration as well as the state. ODOT estimates that the FAA puts about $80 million into construction and maintenance at Ohio airports. Twelve million of that goes into these general aviation airports. The rest goes to the big guys, like the Cleveland Hopkinses, the Port Columbuses and the Akron-Cantons.




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Posted by: rajesh kuturu (OHIO FINDLAY UNIVERSITY) on June 13, 2013 4:06AM
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