At a recent meeting of the Northeast Missouri Economic Development Council, George Walley, the group’s executive director, fielded questions regarding a runway extension at Hannibal Regional Airport. Among the inquiries was “how long?”
During Wednesday’s meeting of the Airport Advisory Board, Walley reported being told by airport consultant Brian Garkie of Crawford, Murphy & Tilly that the city is likely looking at a three-year process. Included in that time line is completion of an environmental assessment, property acquisition, as well as construction.
While the environmental study is considered the first step in the process, in fact the city must select a consulting firm. And while it could again be Crawford, Murphy & Tilly, which oversaw construction of the new terminal, the city will have to go through the selection process before another project can be undertaken, Garkie told the Board. According to Mark Rees, city engineer, the selection process will begin in January.
Money is included in the 2012-13 city budget for the environmental work. Of the $100,000 that is budgeted, $90,000 is state funds with the city having to provide a 10 percent match.
Once the environmental study is finished, it will have a “shelf life” of from three to five years. However, Ambra Knox of Crawford, Murphy & Tilly advised the Board that as long as the project is progressing, the study won’t have to be repeated, even if past three years.
Garkie estimates that extending the runway from 4,400 feet to 5,500 feet will cost in the neighborhood of $5 million. A significant portion of that expense will come from federal and state funds, although local matches will be required.
Much of the expense will be to pay for the extensive amount of earth work that will be necessary on both the south and north ends of the runway, according to Garkie.
Land acquisition will be another expense. A “small piece of land” remains to be obtained on the north end of the runway. Some easements need to be secured south of the runway.
Is such an expensive investment worthwhile?
It was explained that there is a potential economic development benefit to having a longer runway. Because of insurance restrictions, corporate jets from General Mills and BASF cannot land in Hannibal.
“It seems that 5,000 feet is the magic number,” said Garkie. “Some companies will cross a community off its list for possible expansion if it can’t land there.”
There is also an emergency management benefit to a lengthened runway. Hannibal would likely be a staging point for relief efforts if a major earthquake ever strikes along the New Madrid fault.
The most recent runway extension project, when it was lengthened from 3,900 to 4,400 feet, wrapped up in 2002. As part of the same project the runway was widened from 75 to 100 feet. Included in the project was construction of a parallel taxiway.
Page 2 of 2 - According to an Aug. 29, 2001, article in the Courier-Post, that work cost an estimated at $4.5 million, with state and federal grants picking up the majority of the costs. The city’s share was approximately $500,000.
Before the 2002 runway extension occurred the city purchased 80.1 acres of land in March, 2001, for a reported $5,000 per acre. The city was reimbursed $200,005 by the state. The remaining costs were applied toward the matching funds required for other grants.