Tri States Public Radio Staff
1st Step For Runway Work
Fri March 2, 2012
Keokuk Approves Airport Payment
The Keokuk City Council is proceeding with a multi-million dollar infrastructure project.
The Keokuk Municipal airport has two runways. The length of one is 5,500 feet while the other is 3,800 feet.
The city is looking to resurface the longer runway as early as this summer.
Airport Manager Greg Gobble says the work would be done in shifts to allow the airport to remain open.
The Federal Aviation Administration must review the plans because the height of the runway increasing by 6” could impact the agency’s equipment.
The FAA will not start that process without an up-front payment of around $26,000.
The city council has signed off on making the payment. Keokuk will eventually be reimbursed for 90% of that payment.
Gobble says the runway improvements will allow larger airplanes to use the facility because the longer runway will be stronger.
The payment also serves as a commitment that the city will proceed with the $5.8-million dollar project because Keokuk would lose the $26,000 if it does not.
The local match for the roughly $5.3-million federal grant has been a point of contention for the city council. It was originally $265,000 before jumping to just over $530,000.
Mayor Tom Marion says he does not expect Lee County or local industries to help contribute to the project.
Supervisor Gary Folluo, LCEDG Director Steve Bisenius, and Keokuk Tourism Director Kirk Brandenberger were among those speaking in favor of the city matching the grant and improving the airport due to the economic development and tourism impacts.
Alderman Zane Zirkel questioned why Keokuk taxpayers should have to cover the local share, but ended up joining the rest of the council in supporting the payment.