Lewis County commissioners on Monday said they are considering creating a new access road to the Packwood Airport in preparation for potential expansion of the runway.

At the moment, the road to the airport runs perpendicular to the runway, about 100 feet to the north.

The current design could become troublesome should the runway need to be expanded, Commissioner Lee Grose said.

“We’re thinking about the future rather than the here and now,” he said.

That future expansion might not be too far away.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the south end of the Packwood runway is too close to nearby hills. To get up to code, 146 feet on the north end of the runway will be closed, and that distance will be added to the south end of the runway.

The commissioners said they hope to create safer access via new easements or possibly purchasing property. The new road would tie into the existing road system and would not interrupt flight plans in or out.

Grose said purchasing the nearby property could cost the county about $170,000.

“Though that’s only part of it,” Commissioner Bill Schulte said. “Then you have to pay for the runway expansion, and you have to pay for the new road.”

According to a 2010 interlocal agreement between Lewis County and the Washington State Department of Transportation, the project will cost $551,000, with  $13,775 provided by the county, $13,775 provided by the state and $523,450 provided by the federal government.

The airport is located on the west side of Packwood and houses two single-engine planes.

In 2010, 8,497 planes used the airport. 

Currently, its sole runway, Runway 1-19, is 2,262 feet long and 38 feet wide.

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