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BREAKING NEWS

$2.8M airport runway extension planned

By Staff | Mar 17, 2008

The runway at the Blue Earth airport is going to get a 600-foot extension in the near future, to allow larger aircraft to land there.

The current runway is a 3,400 foot paved and lighted runway, along with a 2,290 turf cross runway that is used if the wind is in another direction.

The plan is to increase the runway to 4,000 feet and to give an overlay to the whole thing, according to Blue Earth City Administrator Ben Martig.

The cost of the upgrade is $2.8 million. Martig said that the local contribution to the cost will be just $140,000.

“There is matching monies available for projects at the airport,” Martig said. These include both federal and state monies that help pay for most of the costs of maintenance and improvements at the airport, Martig said.

This year the city is planning on spending over $283,000 at the airport. That includes $174,000 that is for the design of the runway extension.

Out of that $283,600 only $21,700 is slated to be from local revenues. Most of the time only 5 percent of an airport project is local cost, Martig said. “The city has used some liquor store revenue in the past, so no tax monies have been used in the past at the airport.” He added that farm land rent and airport space rent have also funded improvements there.

The full project would be done in 2009, a year where just over $3 million is projected to be spent at the airport.

Martig said that the runway extension is necessary because of the size of the aircraft landing there. “There are new small jets that are being used here, and they need the longer runway for safe landings, and for taking off when fully loaded.”

Martig also said that the pavement strength of the current runway has strength deficiencies and needs to be beefed up. “That is what the overlay is for,” he said.

Corporate jets and the new “Very Light Jets” that are being built need the longer runway. There were 470 “operations” at the airport last year, meaning take-offs and landings. That is expected to go to 770 by 2016 Martig said.

Martig listed Fagen, BEVCOMM, Seneca, Valley Research, Pro-Pilot and Minnesota Valley Eye as just some of the corporate users of the Blue Earth airport.

One problem with the airport runway extension is that a township gravel road, 80th Street, will have to be closed.

“The city already owns the land around the runway, so that is not a problem,” Martig said. But the township road is in the flyway and thus can’t be used, he added. It affects one farm, the Rodney Anderson farm, Martig said.

“We will be holding public meetings on this in April or May,” Martig said. There are several reasons to go ahead with the extension, he added, including having 30 years out,“Martig said.

The Fairmont Airport has a 5,500 foot runway, so even going to 5,300 feet Blue Earth would not be up to that, Martig said.

“The Airport Committee has set this extension as a priority, even though they could invest in other areas,” Martig said. They feel that this will give us the biggest impact, to put the money into the runway.”

The city’s overall five-year plan calls for $5.232 million in improvements and projects at the airport. Of that amount, $340,150 will be local taxpayer funds. access for professional people and CEO’s of corporations, doctors and public health people coming to Blue Earth, and personal usage of the airport.

Martig said that the long range plan is to extend the runway to 5,300 feet. That would allow aircraft to land using a “precision approach” with instruments only. That would mean much larger jets could land here. “That is part of the master plan, probably 30 years out,” Martig said.

The Fairmont Airport has a 5,500 foot runway, so even going to 5,300 feet Blue Earth would not be up to that, Martig said.

“The Airport Committee has set this extension as a priority, even though they could invest in other areas,” Martig said. They feel that this will give us the biggest impact, to put the money into the runway.”

The city’s overall five-year plan calls for $5.232 million in improvements and projects at the airport. Of that amount, $340,150 will be local taxpayer funds.