Crew measure how deep layers of sand in the soil at the Old Town Municipal Airport go as they take samples before construction can start on a new taxiway at the airport, Oct. 7, 2021. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

Old Town’s municipal airport has added so much traffic in recent years that it’s planning to add a taxiway so planes can get out of the way more quickly and make way for other aircraft.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Old Municipal Airport, also known as DeWitt Field, $1.1 million to build the new taxiway so planes landing and taking off can do so more safely.

“Right now, the aircraft back-taxi down the runway and then turn around and go, but as they are back-taxiing, airplanes can come in,” said Shane McDougall, the contractor on the taxiway project, who specializes in work on airports. “It is a big safety issue.”

Plans for the project have been on the books for years, said Lance Farrar, the airport’s director. Initially, the Maine Department of Transportation, the airport and the Federal Aviation Administration were going to split the cost.

But after Farrar and his team filed their plans, the U.S. Department of Transportation decided to cover the full cost, he said. 

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ office announced the award on Sept. 30.

Currently, smaller, personal aircraft make up the largest share of the airport’s traffic. But U.S. Customs and Border Protection rents out a hangar, as does the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Farrar said. 

Shane McDougall and Lance Farrar work to dig a hole to test soil at the site of the new taxiway at the Old Town Municipal Airport Oct. 7, 2021. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

Additionally, there’s an aircraft maintenance company, Horizon Aviation, that calls the airport home, and pilots from all over stop to fuel up, Farrar said.

“The city took a serious approach into revitalizing and we’re still growing today,” he said.

McDougall said the planning for the new taxiway will continue through the winter, with hopes of construction starting in spring 2022. 

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Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is a reporter covering Old Town, Orono and the surrounding areas. A recent graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he's worked for Vermont Public Radio, The...