Willard, Vermilion airports up for improvements

Willard, Vermilion airports up for improvements

SPRINGFIELD — Willard Airport and the Vermilion Regional Airport are in for improvements under the state's 2013 state-local airport improvement program.

At the University of Illinois' Willard Airport, $720,300 in state funds and $730,035 in university and formerly Federal Aviation Administration funds will be blended to undertake a $1.45 million parking pavement rehabilitation project.

"It will improve the roadways and the parking lots in the vicinity of Flightstar and the old terminal where the FAA tower is," said airport manager Steve Wanzek. The roads and lots are used by the FAA, the Institute of Aviation, Flightstar and the airport's fire department, he said.

"It's a critical need because that infrastructure is really, really bad. I've been in this job for 10 years and this has been on my list of things to do for 10 years," Wanzek said.

The design work is about 75 percent complete, he said, and he hopes the project can go out for construction bids this summer.

The Vermilion airport in Danville is to receive $234,000 in state funds to improve its T-hangar taxiway and an access road on the airport grounds. The airport will provide $26,000 in local funds for the project, said airport manager Robert Gagnon.

"We have a taxiway here that needs rebuilding and realigning and that's what that will be for," said Gagnon. "And the rest will be for repaving pavements in the hangar areas. We're glad that this is being funded. We have a five-year transportation improvement program and this is a priority for us."

Gagnon said he hopes the improvements will be made this spring.

Overall, the state is providing $7.3 million for $9 million in improvement projects at 19 Illinois airports, almost all of them downstate. Among the other airports receiving grant funds are those in Mattoon, Decatur, Springfield, Peoria, Pekin and Taylorville. The state money comes from Gov. Pat Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now capital program.

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vcponsardin wrote on January 24, 2013 at 9:01 am
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Time for all these small airports in central Illinois to stop competing against each other.  Willard, Bloomington, Decatur, Danville should just consolidate into one major regional facility.  Perhaps they can build a new one somewhere in the middle.  Or maybe convert the old airfield in Rantoul into the one main commecial airport for all of central Illinois.  Dividing monies and materials among all these little airports is preventing healthy competition among major airlines and diluting our ability of have solid, affordable and regular air service in and out of the area.

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 24, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Good point made, vcponsardin.  The state is supposedly broke.  Money for Willard is like building a bridge to nowhere.  It amounts to more porkbarrel spending.

cretis16 wrote on January 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Ah, this is where that 67% tax increase went...hmmm. Right on the money with the comments. These are long past useful airports. What a terriific waste of money. Wanna have some fun...do a google on the price of a ticket anywhere: compare Bloom and CU...wow!!! The spending continues...

SaintClarence27 wrote on January 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I've flown out of C-U several times, and am happy the airport is here.