Willard lands money for improvements

SAVOY – Willard Airport will see improvements to its taxiways and an access road when two rehabilitation projects get under way.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently released money for a $1.65 million maintenance project for resurfacing taxiways and the main commercial runway. The airport also will be improving an access road used for general aviation traffic.

The work on the taxiways and the transition areas of the runway where it meets the taxiways will repair the normal wear and tear on the surfaces, said Elaine McCoy, director of the University of Illinois' Institute of Aviation.

"This is ongoing maintenance to the airport," McCoy said.

The 8,100-foot-long runway, nearest to the terminal, will remain in use during the rehabilitation work, she said. Aircraft will be able to use taxiways at one end of the runway while work is being done at the other end.

The FAA is providing 90 percent of the money for the project, or about $1.48 million, said Steve Wanzek, assistant to the director at the Institute of Aviation.

The state Department of Transportation and the UI are each paying 5 percent, or about $82,000.

The UI's share of the cost will come from money collected as a passenger facility charge, said Bill Ferguson, the budget director for the Institute of Aviation. Each passenger flying in and out of Willard pays $3, included in the price of a ticket. Willard gets most of that money to use for projects to address safety, security or capacity at the airport, he said.

The improvements to the general aviation access road will cost about $220,000. The state is paying for 80 percent of the work, or $176,000, and the UI is contributing the rest, $44,000, Wanzek said.

University Construction of Urbana will do the work on both projects. Ferguson said the UI saved money on both projects when the company won the contracts for both.

Last year, the airport completed a $4 million project to add a new runway parallel to the main commercial runway at the airport.

The new runway improved safety and efficiency by allowing general aviation craft, mostly student pilots, to use a separate runway and avoid crossing the flight paths of commercial aircraft using the main runway.

You can reach Jodi Heckel at (217) 351-5216 or by e-mail at jheckel@news-gazette.com.

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