Easton Airport Breaks Ground for Airfield Modernization Project

With the sun shining and a fall breeze, the energy on the airfield was electric as the long-anticipated groundbreaking ceremony for the Airfield Modernization Project got underway on Friday morning, October 13th

As the shovels hit the dirt, the joyous attitude of Micah Risher, Easton Airport Manager, could have made it easy to forget the tremendous effort, time, and resource that his team and his predecessors have given to reach this point.  

From left to right: David Montgomery, Easton Town Council, Megan Cook, Easton Town Mayor, Lynn Mielke, Talbot County Council, Chuck Callahan, Talbot County Council President, Mike Henry, former Easton Airport Manager, Micah Risher, Easton Airport Manager, Frank Gunsallus, Town Council President, Dave Stepp, Talbot County Council, Jack Petite, President Airport Advisory Board

In the early 2000s, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) updated their design standards for all the airports in the nation. The primary goals were to increase safety, decrease delays, comply with federal environmental standards, and encourage innovative technologies that promote safety, capacity, and efficiency.  

The largest impact to Easton Airport was the need to increase the size of the Runway Safety Area (RSA) to ensure 1,000 feet existed at both ends of the primary runway, Runway 4/22.  The interim solution, enacted via waiver with the FAA in 2008, was to restrict Runway 4/22 to 4,775 feet; however, the Airport needed a long-term solution.  

Over the next few years, options were vetted with community involvement and periods of public comment. It was eventually decided that the best solution was to add additional length to the primary runway and then demolish the northern portion of the runway.  

The Environmental Assessment (EA) was finalized in September 29, 2018, and was the final pivotal document required to receive federal support. With the assistance of the FAA Airport Improvement Program, FAA grants will fund 90% of the total cost, while the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) will fund 5%; Easton Airport will pay the remaining 5%. The total program cost is approximately $52 million over the next 6 to 8 years. 

“With Technology Park growing and the new University of Maryland Medical System Regional Medical Center scheduled to be built close by, this project will allow the Airport to continue to be a central hub for healthcare and commerce access in the area,” stated Risher. “Making sure the Airport is effective, safe, and up to current FAA standards is extremely important for the County’s continued growth.” 

Shovels in the ground represent a very important milestone: the shift from planning to construction.  

Over the next 6 to 8 years, roughly 80% of the airfield will be reconstructed, and will include the demolition of the Talbot County Business Center (the former Black and Decker building), and the shift of the existing Runway 4/22 1,900 feet southwest of its current position.   

The groundbreaking ceremony was held right outside the Airport terminal, as business continued as usual behind the podium. The ceremony stopped briefly as a jet roared to life, getting ready for takeoff.  

“Bringing commerce to Talbot County right before our eyes,” pointed out Risher.   

“I always joke that people are tired of hearing me talk about the Airport,” said Risher. “But you have to allow me one more joke before we grab the shovels…today, as we transition to the construction phase, we break ground to improve the most important road in Talbot County: the runway at Easton Airport!” 

The Airport brings in $50 million in business revenue annually and is an important component of the economic viability for the county and surrounding area.  

Former Easton Airport Manager Mike Henry reflects on the groundbreaking with Micah Risher, current Manager of the Airport.

For more information on the Airport Modernization Program, reach out to the Easton Airport Manager, Micah Risher at or visit eastonairport.com/projects

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