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SAVOY — University of Illinois Willard Airport hopes to begin work on a runway improvement project next year with the help of a $9.9 million federal grant.

The grant was announced Friday by U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The money will be used to reconstruct one of the three runways at Willard.

New pavement, underground wiring and a lighting upgrade will be done on one of the airport's two commercial runways, said Willard Interim Executive Director Tim Bannon.

All commercial airports were eligible to apply for the supplemental grant funding through the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation, Bannon said.

That Willard was chosen "is huge for us," he said.

"Willard Airport is an essential part of the Champaign-Urbana community and helps connect rural areas to the rest of the world," Davis said. "These necessary upgrades would not be possible without federal support, and I'm glad to see Champaign-Urbana benefitting from this grant."

Bannon said design work on the runway project will follow, and he hopes to see it bid and underway for the 2020 construction season.