Runway Repair Needed to Drive Ottumwa’s Economy
July 8, 2014
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  • OTTUMWA — If Ottumwa wants to maintain its aviation and economic edge in southeast Iowa, it will need to repair its aging runway.

    Among the state’s 177 airports, Ottumwa has the ninth longest runway at 5,885 feet. Monday night, the Ottumwa City Council was brought up to date on the Ottumwa Regional Airport’s master plan by Dustin Leo with DGR Engineering.

    Currently, the airport’s master plan has been submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for approval. By submitting a plan, Ottumwa Regional Airport qualifies for entitlements from the FAA and the state of Iowa. In order the receive funds, the airport must submit its plans, justifications and identify its facilities, such as the runways, apron and pavement conditions.

    In the eight-county region surrounding the Ottumwa Regional Airport, there are 263 registered aircraft, yet 54 percent of those aircraft are leaving the area because of the cost or lack of hangar space, noted Leo.

    On an average day, the airport sees approximately 20 planes land. It is estimated by 2030, that number could increase to almost 25 planes per day.

    While the Ottumwa Regional Airport is operating efficiently, one of its runways is in dire need of repair. In order to maintain its longest runway, the city must look at repairing it and possibility extending it, Leo said.

    “The pavement’s condition is cracking because of year of overlay on the old runway,” he explained.

    If Ottumwa wants to continue to grow its economy, it will have to look at major repairs to the runway, Leo suggested.

    The city has two alternatives. One is just fix its longest runway. The cost to rehab would be about $2.5 million and an additional $5.9 million to extend the runway to 7,200 feet with zero grade.

    The other alternative is to partial reconstruction at a cost of $8.8 million and an additional $3.9 million to extend the runway to 7,200 feet with a .2 percent grade.

    Leo also noted there are federal funds available to help with the project. Federal funding currently is at 90 percent for a project with a 10 percent match. Funding, however, may change during the next election cycle, according to Leo.

    After the presentation Mayor Tom Lazio said, “We want to keep our airport as one of our priorities for economic development.”

    Lazio also pointed to the competitive nature of obtaining and keeping business in the community, it’s important that the city continues to invest in the airport and its facilities.

    In other business, the council:

    • Set a public hearing for July 15 for the 2014 tennis court resurfacing project.

    • Set a public hearing for July 15 for the council’s intent to sell the city-owned parking lot behind River Hills Community Health Center on the corner of River Drive and Market Street.

    • Authorized the mayor to execute certain property acquisition agreements and temporary and permanent construction easement agreements for the 2010 Flood Protection Mitigation Project.