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Greensboro, N.C.'s I-73 Provides First Glimpse of Boom Supersonic Building Site

Mon October 10, 2022 - Southeast Edition #22

The latest conception of the Overture from Boom. (BOOM photo)
The latest conception of the Overture from Boom. (BOOM photo)

If you are driving along Interstate 73 near Greensboro, N.C.'s Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTI), you will find the shoulders of the freeway closed for a construction project that started Oct. 3.

And what you will see are the first publicly visible indicators that crews are building Boom Supersonic's manufacturing facility at PTI.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has closed the shoulders of the interstate in both directions for the next two years as it constructs access roads funded by a state development grant for Boom, officials told WGHP-TV, based in nearby High Point.

Although the work between I-73's Mile Markers 109 and 111 might not directly or routinely interfere with traffic flow, construction vehicles and workers will be in the area until late summer 2024 as they build roads on both sides of the highway and a new overpass to connect them.

Jet Could Be First Supersonic Since Concorde

Last January, Boom Supersonic, headquartered in Denver, Colo., announced plans to build a manufacturing facility for its supersonic Overture passenger jet at the Greensboro airport, which also serves the cities of Winston-Salem and High Point.

Boom has contracts to deliver the Overture, which is designed to cruise at 60,000 ft. and reach a speed of Mach 1.7 (or roughly 1,304 mph) while using 100 percent "sustainable aviation fuel" to fly for American and United Airlines by 2029.

If the jet is successfully flown with passengers, it would be the first supersonic to do so since the last the British-made Concorde flew in 2003.

Although the official groundbreaking for the Greensboro jet factory has not yet occurred, dirt is being turned for the construction, PTI Executive Director Kevin Baker told WGHP-TV in an email Oct. 3.

In August, when Boom signed a 40-year lease for 61 acres at PTI, it took an option on an additional 61-acre parcel on what Baker described as "the other side of I-73," which would be to the north of the highway.

"Yes, the roadwork is for Boom, but will also serve any and all other tenants we might have on that part of the airport," he told the television station.

An NCDOT map shows that there are no new access ramps on I-73, but there are adjacent roads on both sides of the interstate. The state agency said these roadways will extend east and west around the jet overpass that was built several years ago to connect the PTI property to its large parcel of undeveloped land north of the interstate.

Additionally, the map displays a newly drawn overpass further east that an NCDOT spokesperson indicated was a planned connecting overpass for the two frontage roads, according to WGHP.

Boom Investing $500M to Build Jet Plant

The state of North Carolina, Guilford County, and the city of Greensboro all contributed incentive dollars — approximately $130 million — to inspire Boom to invest $500 million in the next five years and hire 1,761 employees at an average annual salary of at least $68,000. Company officials have said that the workforce could grow to 2,400 at PTI by 2032. Those employment figures do not include contractors and suppliers that might move to the Triad.

The state's $106.7 million from a Job Development Investment Grant includes building new hangars at the airport as well as the required road improvements. The PTI's Baker confirmed that those dollars are paying for the construction currently under way along I-73.

"Other ongoing work is the grading of the site for Boom," he explained. "The building pad itself is nearly complete but grading for less schedule-critical areas of the site will continue over the next few months."

In total, PTI has more than 1,000 acres available in several large parcels of land, most of it to be used by the roads now under construction.

WGHP reported that at PTI's August board meeting, Chairperson Paul Mengert mentioned the airport had also received queries from other aerospace companies that could join HondaJet, HAECO, FedEx and others already working at PTI.

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