Governor Edgar announces plans to expand local airport

By Markos Moulitsas

Gov. Jim Edgar announced Thursday his approval of $2.1 million in funding for expanding the runway at DeKalb-Taylor Municipal Airport.

The governor made the announcement at DeKalb-Taylor Municipal Airport while flanked by local elected officials, including several aldermen and the mayors of both DeKalb and Sycamore.

The funding is part of a statewide airport improvement program that totals $230 million in federal, state and local funds. The money will finance runway rehabilitation and construction, the improvement of lighting and other safety enhancements in airports throughout the state. The state portion of the funding comes from bonds earmarked for airport improvement.

The $2.1 million earmarked for DeKalb-Taylor Municipal Airport will enable its 4,200-foot long runway to be extended to 5,000 feet. Its width also will be increased from 50 to 100 feet. The total cost of construction is estimated to be around $7 million, with continued state assistance planned.

Ninety percent of that funding will come from the federal government. The other 10 percent will be split evenly between the state and local governments.

According to Ronald Naylor, director of public works in DeKalb, local funding will be drawn from the “Capital Development Fund,” which funds most city road and infrastructure projects.

Edgar said the expansion of the airport’s capabilities was essential for the continued economic growth of the region, and the state in general. He acknowledged that a number of business aircraft already utilized the airport and said, “when the new runway is completed, the airport will be able to accommodate the new generation of these business aircraft.”

The governor stressed the importance of transportation in efforts to increase economic opportunity. For that reason, he said, “it is extremely important that we invest in our airports … to provide the opportunities for businesses who need access. We believe those communities that have good airports are at a much better position to attract new businesses to their communities.”

Edgar acknowledged any time an airport is expanded it causes concerns in the community, but he felt that “overall, it is a plus for the community.”

The governor commended all those responsible for the airport, congratulating them for “planning for the future.” He further thanked House Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., for helping secure the federal funding needed for the project.

He concluded his remarks by saying the whole project was “a team effort that I think will pay off dividends for DeKalb in the years ahead.”

To acquire enough land for the planned expansions, the city has purchased 600 acres of land around the airport. It included the purchase of 6 residences.

Local resident Anne Kordesh, whose home borders the airport, said the runway extension wouldn’t affect her personally, but hoped the project wouldn’t attract too many people to DeKalb. She would rather have it remain its current size.