A long overdue, long-term fix should be landing soon on the Porter County Regional Airport runway, and we like the flight plan.
The improvements will ensure the utility of an impressive local airport while perhaps reminding the larger Gary/Chicago International Airport to stay on the top of its game.
The Porter County Council agreed last week to contribute $317,197 toward the reconstruction of Porter Regional’s main runway.
The local pledge is important because it leverages 90 percent of the needed $11.3 million from the Federal Aviation Administration to complete the project.
More importantly, local taxpayers aren’t really being stiffed with the price tag.
The Porter County Council is wisely using some of the interest county government accrued on proceeds from the 2007 sale of the former county-owned hospital.
It’s a smart way to take advantage of proceeds without dipping into the actual money from the sale or taxpayers’ wallets.
It also keeps the airport modern and relevant.
The east-west runway, the airport’s largest of two, was built in 1966 and underwent two renovations over the years.
But airport Director Kyle Kuebler said the times between needed repairs were growing shorter, and nearly 200,000 linear feet of the surface was riddled with cracks.
Keep in mind the Porter County runway is larger than any of the landing surfaces at Chicago Midway International Airport.
It’s used regularly by local businesses, and can serve as a potential reminder to the Gary/Chicago International Airport that they’re not the only show in Northwest Indiana.
The Gary facility needs all the motivation it can get — including competition from the nearby airport in Valparaiso — if it’s to become the driving economic engine we know it can be.