Airport improvement project completed

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An often-delayed improvement project at the Edgar County Airport concluded Monday, Nov. 25.

Workers from Feutz Construction were finishing a large concrete pour on the apron and pouring a smaller pad behind the relocated fuel tanks.

The project started earlier this year and, like farming, an excessively wet and cold spring caused delays, so airport manager Tom Tuttle was pleased to see the last of the work getting done Monday.

“The big advantage now is that we don’t have a bottleneck when people are fueling,” said Tuttle.

A new 10,000-gallon fuel tank was ordered for the site, which caused more delays when it was not delivered by the due date. An existing 10,000-gallon tank was retained for use in the new location.

In addition to relocating the fueling area and enlarging the ramp, the project also installed an electronic card reader enabling pilots to purchase fuel with a debit or credit card. Previously, all fuel sales were handled in the part-time office. It was not possible for pilots to buy fuel when the office was closed and the airport lost the opportunity to earn revenue over the weekends and during the evenings. With the electronic reader in place, sales can happen at any time.

“People are already stopping to get gas when the airport is closed,” Tuttle said.

He added the two large-capacity tanks give the airport more flexibility on timing fuel purchases. Management can take advantage if a lower bulk price occurs and stock up.

One of the tanks holds jet fuel and the other has high-octane aviation fuel.

Tuttle has a little breathing room before the next construction project starts.

“The state will let bids March 20 and the work should happen during the summer of 2020,” said Tuttle.

The next project includes more ramp expansion. That work pushes the ramp area east and eliminates a curve in the road in front of the main hangar as it enters the ramp. Other elements of the project include resurfacing the taxiway and building another access road from the taxiway onto the ramp.

“Right now we only have one access road into the facility,” said Tuttle, adding another road between the taxiway and the ramp will help ease some of the congestion of planes taking off and landing during the busy summer crop dusting season.

He noted both the project just finished and the improvements scheduled for 2020 are 90 percent federally funded. The state contributes 5 percent and Edgar County pays 5 percent.

Even more projects at the local airport are on the drawing board.

“The federally funded airports all have a 10-year plan,” said Tuttle. “These are all upgrades deemed necessary by the FAA and the state IDOT.”