Airport considers future improvement projects


Now that the runway expansion project is on the fast track to becoming a reality, the Dubois County Airport Authority is looking at other improvements that could be made at the Huntingburg Airport.

However, board members don’t want to spend too much money on the research until they can get an idea if they can afford to bring the projects to fruition.

“I’m not putting the kibosh on this. But I think the whole point is to get the whole picture of what we can do, what we need to prioritize,” board member Mike Cummings said at the authority’s meeting Monday. “And that’s kind of hard to do without a little bit more information.”

The board is looking at costs to construct a new airport terminal, a new T-hangar and to move fuel pumps that are already on the property. Moving the fuel pumps is needed, the board determined. The $4,800 engineering cost will come from the airport’s fuel fund, which is generated from fuel sold to airplanes that come to the airport.

A fourth project will be the bidding and planning services for the projects attached to the runway expansion. Of that $252,600 cost, 95 percent will be reimbursed by federal funds. The board approved that plan, which is mandated for the airport to get the federal funding.

Board members weren’t quite ready to commit to the $45,200 engineering cost for a T-hangar. They asked project engineer Curtis Brown of Indianapolis firm Woolpert Inc. to bring them a rough estimate on the overall cost to construct the hangar, to which he agreed. The last hangar cost $700,000 to construct.

“How sure are we that we are ready to spend $700,000?” Cummings asked. “Because if we’re not ready to do that, then there’s no real reason to sign off on this (study).

Board President Jim Hunsicker agreed. “You’ve got a valid point, Mike,” he said.

As for the terminal, Brown said the board’s original request to determine if improvements or an expansion could be done to the current terminal may not be feasible. He advised that determining if the current foundation could hold more weight, which would be needed to add a second floor to the facility, could be costly.

The board agreed and asked that Brown look into a new facility.

“I’d be more in favor of building new,” board member Harvey Berger said. “I mean, to remodel something that’s old, it’s cheaper to build new.”

“I’m for pursuing that,” board member Bob Johnson said, adding that updating the facility would be costly in itself. “There is too much technology that has changed over the years,” he said.

Brown said he will bring the information back to a future board meeting.

Board members felt more at ease to start looking into the other projects after learning last month that $7 million in federal funding has been programmed into the budgets of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Indiana Department of Transportation for the airport’s runway extension project. The $7 million would cover the costs of the extension, including relocating utilities, lowering County Road 200 West, constructing a tunnel over the road near the end of the new runway, reconstructing 900 feet of existing runway and mass grading, paving and adding lights for the runway and taxiway A extension.

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