“It’s like a whole new airport!”
While walking across the new concrete ramp where aircraft sit at Shelbyville Municipal Airport, manager Hank Williamson’s pride in the work nearing final completion is obvious.
Work on the taxiway and ramp that was part of a massive $3.2 million renovation of the facility has given Bomar Field a major facelift.
He’s not the only one who sees the change. On Monday, a departing group of aviators repeated the same opinion: The airfield does look like new.
Cleanup where construction equipment now sits will be another task to perform.
The original plan was to repair low spots in the asphalt of the ramp and taxiway, but as officials got deeper into the FAA requirements, they found that the slope on the ramp exceeded federal standards with a three degree drop, so they started looking at the bigger picture.
The ramp has now been leveled and strengthened so heavier aircraft can park and a drain system has been placed under the ramp — with the entire section done in concrete.
“That was a lot of concrete to pour, it’s not like your driveway,” Williamson joked, pointing out that the concrete is 21 inches thick.
Soft spots in the ramp required the installation of shot rock to level it out, as well as the parallel taxiway. As a result the ramp has been raised about 2 feet, also lowering the sidewalk that goes out to the area by 18 inches.
That has corrected a drainage problem that had rainwater flowing toward the terminal building, Williamson explained, but the work meant the trees in that area had to go. But the foliage will be returning, the airport manager said.
The taxiway has also been raised, which also held water after rain, and was redesigned to provide better traffic flow, avoiding bottlenecks that used to occur.
“It’s just much better all the way around,” Williamson said, adding that weather created delays that turned it into a six-month job.
Remaining dirt was used for fill next to the airfield’s T-hangars, and Williamson hopes those structures can be expanded soon.
Williamson also hoped to add some asphalt milling and repair taxiways leading to the hangars, but as the project became larger, those tasks “fell through the cracks.”
The manager is confident that can be done with little cost to the city. Federal and state money comes out of an aviation trust fund, built up over time through fuel taxes and user fees.
Shelbyville’s airport is high on the list to be able to use those funds, Williamson said.
Williamson also said that fuel sales are up at the airport since most of the work has been completed.