Airport to celebrate improved, longer runway


HUNTINGBURG — Work to lengthen and widen the Huntingburg Airport’s runway is pretty much complete.

The public can look at and ride down the runway during its official opening and ribbon-cutting. The Dubois County Airport Authority will hold the celebration at 4 p.m. Friday.

“This is a great opportunity for the public to see firsthand the most important mile of pavement in the region,” Jim Hunsicker, airport authority president, said in a press release. “We are excited to share with everyone this conclusion of our Airport improvements and to see firsthand what the final product looks like.”

The runway has been extended by 501 feet and widened by 25 feet, making it 5,501 feet long and 100 feet wide. The $7 million project also includes Indiana’s first tunnel on a public airport.

Keeping jobs local and corporate orders full, was the intent of the project, by allowing corporate aircraft greater operational usage of the airport, through efficient uses of the aircraft, including taking on more fuel and enabling larger aircraft to use the facilities.

Work has been done for the last year as preparation for making the runway longer. That includes lowering County Road 200 West, constructing a 180-foot tunnel over the road near the end of the new runway, moving about 270,000 cubic yards of dirt to the end of runway to fill in where the extension is now located, reconstructing 700 feet of existing runway, and taking care of utility work. The runway was closed for the last three months so that it could be lengthened and widened.

“This project was years in the making and the foresight of airport board members from the past,” Hunsicker said, “but only comes with the important partnerships of the FAA, INDOT and our two partner contractors Weddle Brothers from Evansville and Appalachian Foothills Contracting from Lexington, KY.”

Airport officials have been planning for more than 10 years to make the airport’s runway longer and wider, which will allow 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.

Plus, current airport corporate tenants — Kimball, OFS Brands, Jasper Engines, Best Chairs and MasterBrand — will be able to carry more people, baggage and fuel; that will give them the ability to fly farther, more safely and more economically.

The Federal Aviation Administration is covering 90% of the expansion’s cost; the rest comes from state and local funding.

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