BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — (AP) — The main runway of a southern Indiana airport is being closed so that crews can make long-term repairs for sinkholes that have developed near it.
A contractor is expected to move in construction equipment and start work this week on the nearly $11 million project at the Monroe County Airport near Bloomington, airport manager Bruce Payton said.
The expected two-month closure will cause disruptions for many airport users, but will also provide a chance to resurface the main 6,500-foot-long runway, he said. The airport’s secondary 3,800-foot-long runway will remain open.
“We’ve talked with all of the businesses over this long period of time. There’s no question it’s an adverse impact,” Payton told The Herald-Times.
The sinkholes were filled with concrete soon after they were discovered in 2011. The new work will remove all soil to the bedrock in a section that’s 1,600 feet by 200 feet. The area will be refilled with stone and layers of thick fabric, called geotextile, followed by a layer of soil.
A grant from the Federal Aviation Administration is covering about 90 percent of the project’s cost.
Those with charter jets, mainly businesses and Indiana University, will need to temporarily move their planes.
Rex Hinkle, president of Cook Aviation, said that many planes use Bloomington as a refueling stop for long flights, although smaller airplanes will still be using the airport facilities.
Fall is one of the busiest times of the year for the airport in general, particularly with Indiana University and other Big Ten sports teams flying in and out for events, and that expands out into other businesses located on the airport grounds.
“This is the time of the year where we have our biggest fuel sales,” Hinkle said.
Hinkle said he didn’t want to estimate how much Cook Aviation will lose from the closure, but agreed it was time to get the work done.
“We would say the same thing: Let’s do it — let’s bite the bullet,” Hinkle said. “We’re excited about the opportunity of getting this situation taken care of, and having a brand-new runway will be well worth it.”