Runway extension funding to come next year


HUNTINGBURG — Some movement on extending the Huntingburg Airport’s runway may be seen next year.

The first projects for the $6.5 million extension will likely be funded next year, the Dubois County Airport Authority heard Monday.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Indiana Department of Transportation have programmed the first two projects, which total $2.7 million, into their 2019 funding, Curtis Brown of engineering firm Woolpert Inc. told the authority.

“Things are looking very positive for next year,” he said.

The projects are part of the airport’s plan to extend its runway 500 feet in length and expand its width by 25 feet. 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.

One of the two projects is relocating utilities and constructing the foundation for the covering that will be built over County Road 200W near where the new runway will end, which will cost $1 million. The covering is needed to satisfy federal requirements for runway clearance.

The second project is building the covering and doing needed earthwork for the runway extension, which will cost $1.7 million.

The state and FAA separated the work into the two projects, just in case there are budget issues, like there has been in the past. If there are issues, the agencies will have the option of funding one of the projects next year and the second one in a different year, Brown explained.

But the agencies are planning on the funding for 2019, he said. And a big part of that has to do with the local officials reaching out to the state and FAA about the need and the importance of the airport’s project, Brown said.

“The letters you wrote and the congressional letter have had a huge impact. It brought this project to the top of the runway extensions and projects list,” Brown said. “And it has a great deal of interest from INDOT. They’ve spoken to us several times stating that you are the No. 1 priority.”

Since the funding is likely to come next year, the airport authority decided to not use its own money to relocate utilities in the area this year. The idea was to go ahead with the project and get reimbursed. But since the funding is likely to come next year, the board decided to do the work at the same time construction is happening next year. That will limit the number of disruptions nearby residents will endure during construction work, members said.

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