SPARTA, Ky. (KT) -- Gov. Matt Bevin joined federal, state and local officials, along with area business leaders, on Tuesday to officially break ground on the newest general aviation airport in Sparta, not far from Kentucky Speedway.
The event in Gallatin County celebrated the construction launch to build Kentucky’s 58th general aviation airport and the first local airport to serve the business needs of the Interstate 71 corridor between Louisville and Cincinnati.
“This long-anticipated project will bring aviation access to Northern Kentucky’s I-71 corridor enhancing emergency response capabilities, economic growth, and recreational opportunities for the entire region,” Bevin said.
Hosted on the site of the future facility just minutes from I-71, Kentucky Transportation Secretary Greg Thomas applauded the collaborative efforts of federal, state and local agencies to move the project forward since its initial proposal in 2004, including a $9 million federal grant, announced in July.
“Investments in roadways and runways keep our economy growing and our people moving,” said Thomas. “Air travel is an important part of Kentucky’s transportation network, and all across the state we’ve seen communities embrace general aviation airports and benefit from economic growth and enhanced infrastructure.”
Others at the event included representatives from the Kentucky Speedway and I-71 Connected, a regional economic development partnership serving Carroll, Gallatin, Henry, Oldham, Owen and Trimble counties.
Airport construction will take place in three phases. Phase one work, expected to take just under a year, includes clearing and grading the land. It may start as early as November or in the spring of 2020.
Phase two, which could take up to two years, includes runway construction and the installation of lighting and striping. Once the second phase is completed, the facility will be opened for use.
The third phase of work includes the construction of box hangars for corporate and large aircraft, T-hangars for small business and private aircraft, a terminal, and on-site fuel systems.
Kentucky Department of Aviation Commissioner Todd Bloch stated, “Once complete, this state-of-the-art facility will provide a safe and reliable connection for recreational pilots, business aircraft and emergency service teams. Anticipating the immediate interest when we open for business, we are working with Gallatin County to make some phase three features available on the first day of the airport’s opening.”
Estimates indicate 30-50 aircraft will be based at the airport once hangar space is available and around 13,000 take-offs are expected per year from the new airstrip.
“This is a monumental effort that spanned two decades and involved intense dedication from the members of our communities, as well as our elected leaders,” said Gallatin County Judge-Executive and airport board member Ryan Morris. “This airport signifies the next step of growth for Gallatin County and its neighbors.”
The new airport will also feature an access road and connector to I-71 exit 55, providing road access to industries in the tristate area.