Runway may not be completed until 2015

2013-08-11T17:30:00Z 2013-08-12T11:41:49Z Runway may not be completed until 2015By Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

The Gary/Chicago International Airport may have pushed back its deadline for completion of its $166 million expansion project to 2015, just a month after announcing it would be pushed back to September 2014.

Airport consultant John Clark first broached the possibility of the 2015 date in a presentation before a local planning agency on July 19 and documents obtained by The Times also reveal the new date.

"The Issuers do not anticipate the delay in the runway project to be significant," the Gary Airport Authority told a potential bidder for airport privatization in answering questions in writing July 30. "The delay relates most significantly to the runway extension and the Issuers still anticipate its completion by 2015."

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said late last week the completion date remains September 2014.

Clark said 2015 has always been the date when Federal Aviation Administration funding for the project ends.

After the airport realized it would have difficulties dealing with contamination in the path of the runway extension, it informed the FAA it would push project completion back to September 2014, according to FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro.

"They did the right thing by delaying it," Molinaro said.

The July 30 answers to the GCIA Group also states no new environmental issues have arisen.

That answer came four weeks after Freeman-Wilson stood at a podium in the airport administration building and told reporters the project's completion date would be pushed back due to worse-than-expected contamination at the site.

The airport's July 30 denial of any delays in the expansion comes as environmental investigations are still pending for soils under a railroad embankment that stands directly in the path of the new runway.

Also, the airport is still negotiating with state and federal environmental regulators about how to get rid of pollution already identified.

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