By Scott Smith Kokomo Tribune
---- — The end is in sight for the Kokomo Municipal Airport’s runway extension project, with bids due next week for the biggest ticket item, the paving work.
Airport officials are hoping the Federal Aviation Administration will fully fund the extension, which will add 800 feet to the airport’s 5,200-foot runway.
Larger aircraft, carrying heavier payloads and fuel loads, will be able to take off from Kokomo once the extension is in place.
“People say, ‘Why 800 feet?’ It’s what the FAA has decided a community our size needs,” airport manager Frank Cade said Friday.
The project has been a decade in the making, beginning with environmental assessments and property acquisition around the outskirts of the airport.
A runway safety improvement area was completed in 2010, at a total cost of $1.8 million, which enclosed a creek on one side of the airport.
Last year, crews completed a $1.6 million project to relocate county roads 300 North and 300 East, creating enough room on the western edge of the airport for the extension. The airport’s fences were replaced as part of that project.
This year, Geiger Excavating, Fort Wayne, has been adding 7 feet of grade to create a level base for both the runway extension and for a broad emergency runoff area. That work, contracted for $900,000, is nearing completion.
With those projects out of the way, all that will be left will be the runway work, and possibly new lighting systems for the runway and taxiways.
Nick Isenberg, a project consultant with Woolpert Inc., Indianapolis, said the FAA will ultimately decide how much to spend on the runway extension work, which is expected to cost considerably more than all of the work done to date.
The FAA is expected to fund 90 percent of the project cost, with the state of Indiana funding 2.5 percent, and the city funding 7.5 percent.
Isenberg said the city plans to use revenue from fuel sales at the airport to pay the city’s matching share.
Cade said if the FAA funds the extension project, a considerable amount of the work could be completed this year.
“I’m fairly confident we’ll get a good portion done this fall,” Cade said.