Lansing looking for cash to pay for airport expansion

2012-10-18T00:00:00Z Lansing looking for cash to pay for airport expansionGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 18, 2012 12:00 am  • 

LANSING | A village trustee is saying the federal government essentially has given its approval for an expansion of the main runway at Lansing Municipal Airport.

Trustee Mikal Stole, who chairs the village’s aviation committee that oversees the airport, said the key to whether the project moves forward is if municipal government can come up with the roughly $17 million needed to pay for the project. The plan would extend the north/south runway at the airport to about 5,900 feet.

“It’s not a foregone conclusion if the extension (of the runway) is the best thing to do at this time,” Stole said, adding that airport officials will be spending the next two years searching for revenue sources to raise the money needed for a longer runway.

Stole told his colleagues on the Village Board when they met Tuesday financing the project will be the focus now because airport officials received last week a Finding of No Significant Impact designation from the Federal Aviation Administration.

According to the U.S. Transportation Department, the designation known as a FONSI means the project would not cause any environmental harm to the surrounding area.

Stole said he interprets it as a determination there are no significant reasons why a runway extension should not be done. “This is a major milestone for the runway extension,” Stole said.

Although airport manager John DeLaurentiis called the designation a "technical status" that says the project can move forward if funds are found. "Sometimes, they come up with a full funding grant agreement, which means the FAA and (Illinois Department of Transportation) are offering grants to pay for it."

Stole said airport officials now have a two-year period to figure out to finance the project, and he said he expects it will be a combination of sources that will produce the funds if the project moves forward.

As of Tuesday, however, Stole said he didn’t have any idea where any of that money would come from.

The runway extension has been under discussion for years. Earlier this year, officials held hearings allowing people to have a chance to express their views.

Opposition has come from some residents of Munster and Dyer — Indiana towns that are on the eastern border of the airport. Those people say a longer runway would bring bigger jet planes that would create noise problems.

Indiana state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, held hearings earlier this year to give those residents a chance to express their complaints. She said Wednesday it is questionable whether local officials can raise the money needed for the expansion project.

“This is not a done deal, by any means,” Reardon said.

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