A celebratory ribbon cutting took place at the Crawfordsville Municipal Airport on Oct. 23. The new 1,000 foot extension to the runway was opened adding yet another economic development tool to Crawfordsville’s improving infrastructure.
Mayor Todd Barton had the responsibility of snipping the ribbon at the beginning of the new extension.
“What an exciting day for Crawfordsville,” Barton said. “This is big for all of us. The airport is one of the important gateways to our city, and this new facility says we are open for business. This airport is important to economic development.”
The runway extension project took more than four years to complete.
Several challenges had to be cleared. The Crawfordsville Aviation Board was persistent and its board members were all pleased to get the runway opened.
“This has been a big project for four years,” Aviation Board Treasurer Myra Dunn Abbott said. “The new runway is just beautiful and we all are very excited about it.”
Dunn Abbott added that the project was accomplished in large part by community partners, including local industry.
“In order for us to get this type of runway extension that will allow large corporate air traffic, we had to guarantee at least 500 take offs and landings per year,” Abbott said. “The local companies helped us as they have committed to do that. This has been a community project and the support has been outstanding.”
Tony McKinney was the project engineer and has worked with the local airport since 2010. He helped clear hurdles such as environmental studies and gaining permits from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The runway also had to pass other inspection items before being rated for the large aircraft.
“First of all, we had to make the runway so corporate jets can land and takeoff safely in all types of weather,” McKinney said. “We also had to build it to satisfy the corporate airplane insurance safety requirements. Insurance companies give strict guidelines to companies concerning the facilities the companies are allowed to fly in and out of.”
Dunn Abbott said before actually laying the new asphalt, the airport had other obstacles to tackle. The airport had to install a concrete apron along the runway and install better lighting. A new approach instrument was installed as well as an automatic weather observation system.
“The total cost for the project was $2.4 million,” Abbott said. “We had a five percent local match so that added up to a lot of money that we had to come up with.”
Ninety percent of the project was paid by federal funds and the state of Indiana paid five percent of the costs.
Representatives from U.S. Congressman Todd Rokita’s office and U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly’s office were on hand to help open the extension.
Dunn Abbott said the aviation board had received help from Rokita on numerous occasions throughout the project. Rokita, who is a Wabash College graduate and a licensed pilot, took his first flying lessons in Crawfordsville. He sent his congratulations to the city in the form of a letter.
The new runway was opened for business Oct. 23.