Runway construction underway


HUNTINGBURG — Work on elongating and widening the runway at Huntingburg Airport is underway.

The runway closed June 1 and is expected to be closed for about three months.

Workers were doing dirt work on the runway just outside the airport terminal, where the Dubois County Airport Authority met Monday afternoon. Rainy days delayed some work in the last week, Project Engineer Curtis Brown told the board.

As the work progresses, the airport board heard about an upcoming proposal to finish construction a little earlier than planned. It would be especially prudent to be done before the Federal Aviation Administration comes in mid-September to conduct the needed instrument of approach flight check. As of now, construction will be complete by the end of September, weather permitting.

The last 900 feet of runway dips down and has to be raised by about 18 inches. The plan as of now is to remove the asphalt, build up the dirt there and pave over the top.

It has been suggested to contractor Weddle Brothers Construction to expedite the timeframe, Brown explained. The proposal is to eliminate the dirt work, leave that runway section as it is and overlay with 9 inches of asphalt to make it level.

“You end up with a more substantial pavement section,” Brown said. “They can just run an asphalt machine a lot quicker. So you get a lot of savings in time and equipment. But then you’re paying for more expensive material.”

That cost could be about $30,000. It would qualify for FAA grant funding, which means the FAA would cover 90% of the cost; so the local cost would be about $3,000. And, construction would be done about a week earlier than the FAA check, weather permitting.

“It sets you up with a higher probability of being positioned for that first scheduled flight check,” Brown said.

Board members will take the next month to think about making the change. A change order for the work will be presented at the board’s July meeting, before any of that work is done.

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.

The board also:

• Transferred $346,000 into its rainy day fund.

• Established committees to work on the airport’s budget and to assess the airport’s technology needs.

• Heard that Nick Kowalkowski will be working with Curtis Brown on the airport’s projects. Brown’s position at Woolpert Engineering is changing to Indiana aviation practice leader, which means he will be working all over the state.

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