Willard nets $1.15 million for projects

SAVOY – More construction projects are slated for Willard Airport in Savoy.

The Federal Aviation Administration awarded the University of Illinois airport $1.15 million to add a new passenger loading bridge and to rehab the area where airplanes park.

"We are excited every time we get these projects approved and the money that comes with them so we can continue to improve the airport," said airport Manager Steve Wanzek.

The money will fund three projects. Two projects involve work on the aprons, where the planes park. Rehabbing of the aprons will result in more space for airplane taxiing and parking.

The third is to install the new loading bridge. The bridge will be more compatible with the regional jets that serve Willard, Wanzek said. The current ones are designed for larger airplanes.

"These vital improvements will allow airplanes to maneuver more easily around the airport, and the loading bridge will make it a lot easier for passengers to get on and off airplanes, especially in bad weather," said Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, who announced the grant in a written release Wednesday.

The approval process for the projects and the money began last fall.

Construction crews at Willard are already at work on resurfacing the parking lot for commercial airlines as well as the entrance road and parking lot for cars.

Another project on board is to replace the revolving doors at the airport terminal's entrance.

The 8-foot-wide doors, installed in 1989 when the terminal was built, will be replaced with 14-foot-wide doors instead.

That $400,000 project will begin this fall.

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