Airport awaiting bid approval for runway extension


HUNTINGBURG — Bids for most of the Huntingburg Airport’s runway extension work have been submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration for its approval.

“We are waiting on the FAA to see if they agree with our recommendations,” Project Engineer Curtis Brown of Indianapolis firm Woolpert Inc. said Tuesday.

The Dubois County Airport Authority has been planning for years to make the airport’s runway longer and wider, utilizing funding from the Indiana Department of Transportation and the FAA.

In April, the authority learned that Federal Aviation Administration and the INDOT have designated in their budgets a total of $7 million for the extension project, which covers the majority of the work. The expectation was that $3.5 million would be designated. So authority members were happy to hear that a bigger amount was labeled for the project.

The project is broken into three divisions. Division A includes lowering County Road 200 West and constructing a tunnel over the road near the end of the new runway. Division B includes moving 270,000 cubic yards of dirt to the end of runway, to fill in where the extension will be located. Division C is the airfield paving and electrical work.

Five bids for Division A and eight for Division B were opened July 2. Brown reviewed those bids and has submitted to the FAA his recommendation that the low bidder, Weddle Brothers Construction of Evansville, be approved as the contractor. The company’s bid for Division A was $3,188,500, which was less than the engineer’s estimate of $3,223,000. Weddle’s bid for Division B was $1,758,866, which was less than the project’s estimated cost of $2,467,400.

“All the other bids were close, but slightly above the engineers’ estimates,” Brown said.

The FAA will review the bids and, if it approves Brown’s recommendation, send a grant offer to the airport authority, which Brown hopes will happen in August. The authority would then accept the grant and accept the bids to enter into a contract with the bidder.

The projects could start this fall or spring, depending on the contractor’s schedule, Brown said.

A longer runway allows planes to carry more weight. When a plane flies out of Huntingburg, it’s usually the fuel, not the passengers or luggage, that gets sacrificed for weight reasons. With less fuel, a plane might need to land more frequently to refuel, a possible burden when executives need to travel quickly. By extending the runway, the airport becomes more attractive to customers.

The only runway projects not included in the $7 million funding are $2.1 million for widening the runway and $1 million for replacing taxiway A’s edge lighting system. Those projects are in the federal capital improvements plan for 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Bids for Division C will be opened at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 25 at the Huntingburg Airport, 2495 W. County Road 900S.

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