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CIRA to receive $3.3 million to rehab airport entrance, road system

Airplane on tarmac

Nearly 100 airports across Illinois, including the Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington, will receive state funding in the coming months for projects ranging from new runways and road relocations to the purchase of mowers and snow removal equipment.

The money comes from the $45 billion Rebuild Illinois capital infrastructure plan that passed the General Assembly and the governor signed into law in 2019. Another $11.5 million for the projects will be contributed by local sources.

Gov. JB Pritzker was in Moline on Wednesday to publicize the funding for 96 airports around the state and $5.6 million for the Quad Cities Airport.

“Crucially, these dollars are going first and foremost to projects that might not otherwise be eligible for the full federal funding that they need to finish,” Pritzker said.

CIRA will receive $3,342,600 in funding, providing 90% of the money necessary for an estimated $3,714,000 project to rehabilitate the airport’s main entrance and circular road system. The Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority will fund the 10% balance of the project.

Saying he was speaking for the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority and Twin City community, authority chairman Alan Sender thanked Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation. “Our roads are the welcome mat to our facility for the tens of thousands of passengers and guests we host each month at Central Illinois Regional Airport," he said. "This funding will allow the airport authority to complete the rehabilitation and repair of these roads expeditiously and cost effectively.”

The state grants range from $36,000 for the Illinois Valley Regional Airport in LaSalle County to acquire a tractor with a flex wing mower to nearly $11.8 million for the Morris Municipal Airport in Grundy County for a crosswinds runway.

Stan Knudson, a public information officer for the city of Morris, said in a phone call the funding will allow the airport to expand its operations. It currently has a single north-south runway, meaning certain aircraft can’t land there if the wind is blowing unfavorably. Adding an east-west runway would accommodate more aircraft, he said.

Knudson said that funding would go toward the entire process — from engineering to construction — but he was unsure on a timeline for construction. The project also is slated to receive just under $3 million in local funding, according to the governor’s office.

Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, was a supporter for the capital plan when it passed in 2019 and called the airport an “economic driver within our region.” The project had been in the works since 2003 but was made possible by the 2019 capital bill funding.

“Projects like this are critical for the betterment of our state,” Rezin said. “I would like to thank former Morris Mayor Dick Koczick and Morris Municipal Airport Manager Jeff Bogen for years of hard work and planning they put in to make this new crossroad runway a reality.”

Rezin also credited the governor and IDOT for approving the plan, and area Rep. David Welter, R-Morris, and current Morris Mayor Chris Brown for advocating for the region.

St. Louis Downtown Airport in St. Clair County is slated to receive $5 million for ramp and taxiway access from the airfield, including a jet blast noise mitigation barrier.

The funding will provide improvements that will benefit four aircraft maintenance providers operating at St. Louis Downtown Airport near Cahokia. The project will support more than 450 aerospace manufacturing jobs by improving production safety, reliability and efficiency, improving airport businesses and increasing global competitiveness for southwestern Illinois and the state of Illinois, according to Sen. Christopher Belt, D-East St. Louis.

“St. Louis Downtown Airport is a vital economic engine in the Metro East,” Belt said in a news release. “I will continue working with Rep. Latoya Greenwood to bring our tax money home from Springfield in order to maintain and create jobs in our area.”

St. Louis Downtown Airport is the third busiest airport in Illinois and was recognized by the IDOT Division of Aeronautics as the 2021 Reliever Airport of the Year.

The project has been in the planning stages for several years, Belt stated. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2022.

Other airport projects funded include:

— Cairo Regional Airport near the state’s southern tip will receive $309,000 from the state, including $72,000 to acquire snow removal equipment and $237,033 to replace airport lighting.

— Tri-Township Airport in Carroll County will receive $171,000 to install new electric airfield security gates.

— Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield will see more than $3 million to rehabilitate its north airport’s public parking lot and roadways.

— Bolingbrook’s Clow International Airport will receive $2.8 million, $67,500 of which will help replace its rotating beacon, while more than $2.1 million will go toward the construction of a replacement parallel taxiway.

— Southern Illinois Airport in Jackson County will see over $1 million, with $252,000 going toward the relocation of Fox Farm Road and $751,000 going to expand the southeast aircraft parking apron.

The Rebuild Illinois plan is a multi-modal infrastructure package covering roads, bridges, waterways, air travel and rail, as well as bike and pedestrian pathways. Of the funding for the Rebuild Illinois plan, $33.2 billion is slated to go directly toward transportation in accordance with the state’s 2016 “lock box” amendment that requires the state to use transportation related funds for their stated purpose.

The 2019 plan was largely funded through a doubling of the state's motor fuel tax to 38 cents, a rate that now goes up annually at rate of the inflation. The measure also increased several fees motorists pay to the secretary of state, including registration fees.

The vertical infrastructure component of the bill, which provides for infrastructure improvements on state buildings, is funded through revenues resulting from a massive 2019 gambling expansion and an increase to taxes on cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Jerry Nowicki is bureau chief of Capitol News Illinois and has been with the organization since its inception in 2019.
WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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