ROANOKE, Va. – The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport is looking ahead to the next two decades of what travel could look like in the valley.
For the first time, the public was able to see the airport’s master plan. Executive Director, Mike Stewart, said this plan gives an outlook of what the next twenty years could look like.
“It’s not only a blueprint for where we’ll build stuff but how we’ll fund it,” Stewart said.
Some of the outlooks include improving parking spaces, adding more concessions after TSA as well as moving the TSA checkpoint out of what currently is Gate 1.
“Immediate most vital is trying to get the checkpoint space up there that we need to not only flow the checkpoint but to get gate one back so we have an expansion gate,” Stewart said.
Perhaps the most talked about item on the agenda is the idea of extending a runway over Interstate 581 to allow bigger jets to fly in and out of Roanoke.
Stewart said the real reason for the extension is to keep up to date with the FDA’s safety guidelines. However, if airlines wanted to add Roanoke as a destination from further out places, they could with an extended runway.
“Building a runway is not going to guarantee flights to the west coast or bigger airplanes all the time, all that does is enable it. At the end of the day the airlines make the decisions about where to fly, who to fly, and how much to charge,” Stewart said.
Opening up these sorts of opportunities could lead to economic growth for the star city.
Bishop J.L. Jackson said he’s excited to see all the opportunities it could open up.
“I’m excited to see the expansion of the airport, to see the expansion of the opportunity to get more travel into the city as well as travel outside the city…which will open doors for more opportunities for our city. For businesses, jobs better-paying jobs for our citizens as well as tourism,” Jackson said.
One of the other things Jackson is proud of is that the airport is making sure the community is involved throughout the entire process.
“I’m very concerned about our neighborhoods so to hear commissioners from the airport are concerned about the neighborhoods … even the plans are considered for the neighborhoods, I think it’s amazing,” Jackson said.
You can find out more about the master plan or leave comments about the plan by clicking this link.