Prince William County officials have found what they think would be a fine site for a new airport in the county's eastern end. Now all they need is $73.2 million.
"Fantasy is probably a little strong of a word" for the thought of funding a 5,400-foot runway that could accommodate corporate jets along Prince William's I-95 corridor, said county planning director John Schofield. But, Schofield acknowledged, the chances of funding a new facility anytime soon look pretty remote.
Many private pilots have been hoping for a new facility since the old Woodbridge airport closed last spring after being sold to a developer. Several members of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors also have expressed enthusiasm for a new general aviation facility in the east, believing that an airport would be a boon to the county's longstanding, but only modestly successful, efforts to attract business.
Last week, a committee appointed by the supervisors to study the feasibility of an airport identified a 600-acre site near in the Potomac River in the Cherry Hill community as the most desirable location in eastern Prince William for an airport. But a consultant's figure of more than $73 million as the likely cost of the airport has left heads spinning, Schofield said.
Another possible site, also at Cherry Hill, could be developed more cheaply by having the Anden Group, a developer planning a large complex in the area, fill in a portion of the Potomac River shore for a runway, Schofield said. However, he added, environmental regulations would be a formidable problem for that option.
Despite the obstacles, Schofield said, the committee remained convinced that an airport is a good idea, and its site recommendation is to be presented March 8 to the board of supervisors, which will decide whether to proceed with attempts to bring a new airport to Prince William.