New Cleveland jetport set to open in December - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

New Cleveland jetport set to open in December

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CLEVELAND, TN. (WRCB) -- Cleveland's old airport will soon be replaced by a new, larger, more modern jetport.

Construction is slightly behind schedule, but when the ribbon is finally cut, and aircraft wheels begin to roll, city leaders hope this modern transportation hub will help the area attract and hold on to business opportunities.

"Of course, modern industry requires modern transportation," says Cleveland Mayor Tom Roland.

The new Cleveland Regional Jetport will finally take the city and Bradley County that direction.  

Anticipation and expectations grow as construction continues on the runway, taxiways, a new hangar, and the terminal.
"We're building a brand new, 8,000 plus square foot terminal here," says Mark Fidler.

With a price tag of nearly $43 million, everything will be bigger and better than at Hardwick Field, which sits just more than three miles away.      

"That airport is essentially landlocked," Fidler says. "There is no further real estate available for lengthening of the runway."

Runway length is important. It determines the size and variety of aircraft that can fly in and out.  

"This runway is 5500 feet in length," Fidler says.

That can accommodate props and jets.

"The length of the field we have now will actually readily accommodate over 85 percent of aircraft that are currently flying," says Fidler.

That's an important factor when recruiting new industry.  

Another bragging right: no tower. Pilots follow standard aviation procedures, making arrivals and departures more convenient.

"This will be a much more safe and efficient airport," says Fidler.

It may draw some private and corporate traffic from Chattanooga.

And, it's been a long time coming.

Mayor Tom Roland says he's fought for a new airport through his 21 years in office.

The two prior mayors worked for it as well. And, he adds, the region nearly lost out on previous un-named business deals for lack of it.  

"It's just going to be a different complexion, I think, for what we see in Cleveland and Bradley County," says Roland.

State and federal grants and airport improvement funds are paying for about 90 percent of this more than $40 million project.

To fund the balance, they hope the sale of the old airport will bring in a million dollars. They are lining up donors for the rest.

The opening date has been pushed to the first or second week of December.

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