Project to improve runway from Comair crash remains in limbo

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Plans to revamp the runway that was the focus of the deadly Comair 5191 crash have been complicated by gubernatorial politics and a bitter land dispute, and airport officials may soon have to make some difficult choices about the project.

The general aviation strip accounts for two-thirds of the traffic at Blue Grass Airport, and director Michael Gobb says it has outlived its usefulness and needs to be immediately lengthened and repaved.

At issue is whether to spend $9 million to do that in the runway's current location, where it intersects the longer commercial runway or to accelerate plans for a $27 million project to lengthen the strip even further and separate it from the other.

Gobb cites the World Equestrian Games, coming to Lexington in 2010, as a pressing reason to do the larger project now. "We have one shot at impressing the world," Gobb said.

The runway in question, not intended for commercial planes, was the one that Comair pilots mistakenly traveled down in the predawn darkness Aug. 27, 2006, on a flight intended for Atlanta. Unable to make a proper takeoff from the 3,500-foot strip, the plane clipped trees and a perimeter fence before crashing, killing 49 of the 50 people on board.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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