In a cover-up of epic proportions, the Gary/Chicago International Airport is spreading blue tarps over its 1,900-foot runway extension in order to ward off pilots who might mistake it for the end of the main runway.
Any pilot trying to land on the extension would be in for a rude shock, as a railroad embankment carrying Canadian National trains still separates the extension from the main runway.
AECOM project manager John Lukas and airport engineer Ken Ross briefed the Gary airport authority on the cover-up project Monday, noting it might add $80,000 to the cost of the expansion project.
The blue tarp is going on top of black sand the airport already spread on the runway at the Federal Aviation Administration's request, Ross said. The blue tarps will be weighted down with sandbags.
The airport had suggested erecting billboards or installing red lights to ward off pilots, but the FAA balked at both those suggestions, Ross said.
So now it is going with an FAA-mandated solution reminiscent of the environmental artworks of the Cristo and Jeanne-Claude team, whose artwork has included covering whole coastlines with fabric and constructing curtains across river valleys.
It could be some time before the existing 7,000-foot main runway and the extension are finally joined, as the airport has run into problems with removing pollution from the site and with nailing down final railroad agreements that will allow Canadian National trains to move off the embankment.