Runway project awarded $5.97M in federal funds

Photo courtesy Huntingburg Airport Facebook

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — The federal portion of grant funding for the Huntingburg Airport’s runway extension project has been awarded.

Airport officials learned Wednesday that the airport has been awarded $5.97 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the project.

“We’ve worked so many years on getting this grant to expand the runway,” said Jim Hunsicker, president of the Dubois County Airport Authority, which runs the airport. “It’s exciting to see the project that everybody has worked on for years come to fruition.”

U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-8th, made the announcement through a press release.

“Regional airports like Huntingburg Regional Airport in Dubois County, Indiana, connect Hoosiers to cities all across the Midwest and help drive the local economy,” he said. “This grant will help extend the runway at Huntingburg Regional Airport, which will help foster additional economic growth opportunities for the city, the airport and surrounding areas. It is important that we continue to invest in our national infrastructure to ensure it meets the demands of the 21st century.”

The funding comes through the approval of the Federal Aviation Administration, which had to give final approval to hire Weddle Brothers Construction of Evansville for the construction. Bids for the project were opened in July and Weddle Brothers was the firm the airport authority chose to do the work. That recommendation was then sent to the FAA.

Additional funding for the expansion is expected to come from the Indiana Department of Transportation, project engineer Curtis Brown explained. The state money and local match will total the $7 million that will be used for project work.

“There’s still the state share and local share that will add up to the total project,” said Brown, who works for Woolpert of Indianapolis. “When there is an initial congressional announcement, INDOT usually writes a grant offer soon after. So I’d expect the INDOT grant offer to be made by the end of the month.”

The federal funding will cover lowering County Road 200 West, constructing a 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 will be located, reconstructing 700 feet of existing runway, and taking care of utility work.

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.

“This is good for Dubois County as a whole,” Hunsicker said. “There are a lot of people who use the airport. This will allow us to expand and provide better service.”

The airport authority has been planning for more than 10 years to make the airport’s runway longer and wider, utilizing funding from INDOT and the FAA. In April, the authority learned that the FAA and INDOT had designated funding for the extension project.

“Now we just have to get that paper in hand so that we can start working,” Hunsicker said.

Authority officials expect to receive and sign the needed paperwork for the grant next week. At its meeting last week, the authority gave Airport Manager Travis McQueen, board Attorney Phil Schneider and a board member permission to sign the paperwork.

Work on the expansion will likely start at the end of October, Brown said.




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