Runway project moving forward after engineering contract approved

The Quincy Regional Airport on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. | H-W File Photo
Jake Shane 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 15, 2020 8:30 am

QUINCY -- An estimated $28 million project that includes the reconstruction of the largest runway and removal of another at Quincy Regional Airport is taking another step forward.

The Quincy City Council on Monday approved a $743,500 contract with Crawford, Murphy and Tilly, Inc., to provide engineering services for the airport projects. The engineering is covered through the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program.

The mostly federal-funded project calls for the reconstruction of portions and resurfacing of Runway 04/22. Built in the 1940s, the 7,100-foot runway is the longest of the airport's three runways. The runway was last rehabilitated in the mid-1990s.

FAA standards call that the runway comply with the line-of-sight rule, meaning the entire runway must be visible from a point of 5 feet above the runway. This requires for a portion of the runway to be removed and the ground regraded to meet the standard.

"At some time, this probably met criteria, but based on current criteria, it doesn't meet that standard anymore," said Randy Vogel, program manager and aviation group manager for Crawford, Murphy and Tilly.

Vogel presented the project to the council in a committee of the whole meeting.

Runway 18/36 is 5,400 feet long. Plans call for the runway and its parallel taxiway be removed.

Vogel said the south end of the runway intersects with Runway 04/22, and that the FAA wants the two runways decoupled.

"With these two overlapping here, there's a pretty significant danger in a pilot choosing the wrong runway, and remember (04/22) is 7,100 feet long and (18/36) is 5,400 feet long," he said. "So if you have somebody that's counting on 7,100 and accidentally gets on this other runway, there could be some significant issues as there have been in other locations in the country."

He added that the FAA is not funding a third runway, and any improvements to it would be a local cost down the road. In Illinois, third runways have been removed at airports in Springfield and Champaign.

Airport Director Sandra Shore said plans were submitted seeking a modification of FAA standards to reduce the cost of the overall project, but it was denied.

Bidding on the first phase of the project is expected to move forward in January with work set to start that summer. The second phase would take place in 2022.

Funding for the project would be 90% federal, with the state and city each chipping in 5%.

Last November, the airport learned that it would receive $9 million toward the first phase project. For the second phase of the project, $14 million is being sought from the FAA.

To cover the city's portion, officials propose taking out a $1.5 million loan. The loan would be paid back over 10 years from the city's capital fund and passenger facility fees.

Shore estimated that $140,000 would need to be earmarked in capital funds each year.

"We found that over the last 20 years ... our average capital ask has been $183,000, so we actually have some wiggle room there," she said. "We feel like it is feasible."

With the removal of the third runway, Shore said the airport will add more farmland to lease.

"Farmland is by far our number one revenue at the airport, so when we're able to farm those, we will see our general fund subsidy go down," she said.