Rantoul aims to replace runway lights in spring

Rantoul aims to replace runway lights in spring

RANTOUL – Planes approaching the Rantoul airport can expect a clearer view of its runways even in dark or foggy weather beginning in March.

The Rantoul Village Board voted 5-0 Tuesday to approve an $85,217 contract with Burns & McDonnell, Downers Grove, to provide engineering for a planned $950,863 new runway lighting system for the airport.

Rantoul Airport Manager Bill Clayton said the state-of-the-art lighting project is expected to be installed after the snow melts.

According to Clayton, the old runway lights, which were installed in 1993, have outlived their usefulness.

"These days pilots are looking for runway identification lights to allow them to better find the location they are looking for in dark or bad weather," Clayton said. "The new lights are like strobe lights; you can identify a runway at a distance, even in a fog.

Mayor Neal Williams said the new runway lights, combined with the establishment of Rantoul's new Foreign Trade Subzone (adjacent to the airport), will make the airport more attractive for new industries and other businesses.

"The subzone and the runway lights work hand in hand," Williams said. "This will only encourage other businesses to come to Rantoul."

Rantoul's subzone application, which is under review by the Department of Commerce, would comprise 395 acres bounded by Veterans Parkway, Century Boulevard, Chandler Road and the Rantoul airport. Because the zones are considered outside U.S. customs territory, items imported into a zone are duty-free if, after processing, they are sent abroad.

Since many industries that import foreign parts often use larger aircraft, Clayton said having better runway lights will allow these larger planes to pick up sight of the runway earlier.

"I believe these lights will help everybody who flies into the airport," Clayton said.

Earlier this year the village formally proposed to the Federal Aviation Administration that the airport's two runways be extended and widened in 2010.

The federal government is expected to pay for 95 percent of the lighting project, with the state paying another 2.5 percent and the village footing the bill for the remaining 2.5 percent. In other business:

– The board voted 5-0 to spend $11,493 to pay for new Village Administrator Bruce Sandahl 's household moving costs.

– The board voted 5-0 to adopt an identity theft protection program for all its utilities (water, wastewater, electricity and gas).

– The board voted 5-0 to award a $93,299 contract to Ed Cain Roofing to repair the roof at the village power plant.

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