The Union Recorder

October 17, 2013

County airport and railroads on development agenda

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Milledgeville and Baldwin County Development Authority Executive Director Matt Poyner provided his quarterly update at Tuesday’s Baldwin County Commissioners’ work session.

Improving the county airport and solving railroad absences were major talking points for future improvements. 

Lack of rail siding puts Baldwin County at a disadvantage when recruiting some major industry, which prefer the less expensive freight method.

Existing industries such as Triumph Aerostructures and Zschimmer & Schwarz could utilize rail siding pulled up on the U.S. Highway 441 bypass by the Georgia Department of Transportation. 

Poyner spoke with CSX Corporation about why the rail came out and methods to reconstruct the rail passage traversing the west side.

“The CSX rep is new. He’s going to do some research,” Poyner said Tuesday. “He isn’t sure why it happened and what was the reasoning behind it. I’ve heard the GDOT required them to put a bridge over the Highway 441 bypass.” 

Poyner said the state EDGE funds could come into play if the development authority shows building a bridge over the four-lane highway means positive jobs and investment in the industrial park.

Commission Chair Sammy Hall, District 3, said with high fuel prices people are going back to the railroad.

For example, nearby Macon has 68 industry projects of which 80 percent are rail siding associated.

“Their industrial parks all have rail. They have the whole gamut to market,” Poyner said. “We have capacity and all the infrastructure, but we don’t have rail. They need rail to get from Point A to Point B.”

Improving the Baldwin County Airport moved up on the economic development agenda of late.

This county boasts one of three airports in the 11 surrounding counties.

Better signage is step one to sprucing up the facility.

“There is no identification at all that says you are at the Baldwin County Airport,” Poyner said.

The development authority director said a City of Milledgeville and county partnership could better utilize that resource.

“That’s a huge asset for that community that no one else can have. Only Macon, Warner Robins and Milledgeville has airports in middle Georgia,” Poyner said. “That’s our advantage right there.”

Commissioner Johnny Westmoreland, District 5, said building new airport hangers came up in recent discussions.

“The airplanes that are coming in these people want to park their planes somewhere,” Westmoreland said.

Currently, airport lot size restricts hangar expansion. Big industries have jets as part of their business plans.

“Right now, we have nowhere for them to park there planes if they located here,” Poyner said.

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