Grant to help Urbana pay for Airport Road work

URBANA — The city will get a $1.4 million economic development grant from the state to cover some of the cost of a planned $3 million Airport Road reconstruction.

The 0.7-mile segment of Airport Road west of Cunningham Avenue is in poor condition, said public works director Bill Gray, and it is not built to handle the heavy truck traffic in the area — especially as Frasca International gets ready to expand.

"It's in poor condition," Gray said. "It's a narrow, chip-and-seal road. We've had to patch potholes. It's rotted. We've had to do some overlays, had to do some repairs through the years. The road is not able to perform well with the truck loading out there."

The project has been in the city's road plans, but the state grant "really helps us a lot," Gray said.

The city qualified for the state economic development grant because of Frasca International's plans to expand its flight-simulator business and Frasca Field Airport near the intersection of Cunningham Avenue and Airport Road.

The Frasca project would include renovations of existing facilities, expansion of one building and construction of a new 12,000- to 24,000-square foot facility, according to city documents.

The city has already agreed to rebate 60 percent of the property-tax revenue generated by the expansion during the next 10 years. That rebate would be capped between $275,000 and $425,000, depending on the final cost of construction.

City officials expect the extra tax revenue generated by the project would cover the cost of the rebates after 12 or 13 years. Frasca Associates says the expansion will provide room for 40 more employees during the next five years, and city officials think the project would increase local economic output by more than $14 million annually when it is completed.

The Airport Road project west of Cunningham Avenue could start in 2015, Gray said. It is yet to be decided whether the pavement will be upgraded to asphalt or concrete, but either way, the street will be reconstructed.

Gray said plans include one travel lane in each direction and a two-way left-turn lane in the middle. Workers will install curbs, gutters, storm sewers, a storm water detention basin and modify or replace traffic signals at the intersection of Airport Road and Cunningham Avenue.

Sidewalks and bike lanes are not in the plans.

"We're excited for this grant and that will be very helpful for us to build a new road there," Gray said.

A related $1.1 million project to repair pavement on the segment of Airport Road that runs two-thirds of a mile east of Cunningham Avenue could start this year if city officials are able to purchase the property they need for the project.

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billbtri5 wrote on March 06, 2013 at 10:03 am

good to  no  know the State does have money..must of gotten that 98 billion pension funded...

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 06, 2013 at 10:03 am

My thoughts also.  It is going to be hard for the state to cry "broke" in court over the "pension reform" issue when it has been spending money on grants, corporate tax breaks, and pork barrel projects.