Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Municipal airports in Washington, Mt. Pleasant and Fairfield are each set to receive $159,000 from a federal infrastructure bill passed in November.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has given us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build safer and more sustainable airports that connect individuals to jobs and communities to the world,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a news release. “With this new funding, urban, regional and rural airports across the country now can get to work on projects that have waited for years, modernizing their infrastructure and building a better America.”
Washington Municipal Airport Commission Chair Kevin Erpelding said the group would likely spend the money on a lighting project in the next year.
“We had planned to relight our north-south runway,” he said. “The lights have been in since the early ‘90s, so we’re seeing a lot of issues with the lights, so we plan to update the lighting, that is our next big project … a lot of the bids right now are coming back a lot higher than expected.”
Still, plans are not yet set in stone.
“We had talked at our last meeting about how we had gotten it, but we are just looking into the projects right now and what we would use it for,” Erpelding said. “Within the next year, year-and-a-half, we plan to use it.”
In Mt. Pleasant, the city plans to put the money toward an 800-foot runway extension with a much higher price tag.
“Most of all the money we’ve been accumulating has been to try to get to that goal eventually,” City Administrator Brent Schleisman said. “There’s land acquisition, there’s all sorts of things that can go into it, it’s not cheap. It’s probably in the millions. This will probably help us with the smaller aspects of the planning or designing, that kind of stuff.”
Fairfield Airport Manager Bob Lyons said the money would go toward a taxiway project scheduled for 2025.
“We will bank that and in 2025 we will do a taxiway to tee hangar phase four,” he said. “The place where they taxi their planes when they go to the hangar, that’s going to be tore up and redone. It’s deteriorated over the years and it needs repaved, it’s safety for the airplanes so they don’t pick up debris.”
Lyons said the grants to airports across the state were powerful economic tools.
“We’ve taken every penny that we could get in grants and through the state FAA and used it for economic development,” he said. “It’s worked out well over the years.”