by Ashley Flynn
Recently, Senator Joe Donnelly announced a federal grant awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration to allow Wabash Municipal Airport to rehabilitate its runway. Under the FFA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP), Wabash Municipal Airport was awarded approximately $1.5 million.
“Hoosier families and businesses rely on our state’s efficient infrastructure to get from one place to the next or to move goods and services. This grant provided by the Federal Aviation Administration will allow Wabash Municipal to improve its runway so that passengers and cargo plans can continue to be safe traveling in and out of Indiana,” Senator Donnelly said in a press release.
The grant money will be used to rehabilitate the eastwest runway, which is the main runway used at the facility.
“For the last several years we’ve been fixing the cracks and maintaining it, but it’s getting to the point where it’s going to need to be repaved and redone. This is going to take care of that,” Wabash Mayor Robert Vanlandingham told The Paper of Wabash County.
Improving the runway is part of a five-year improvement plan for the airport.
“This grant gives us the opportunity to improve the facility. It’s a much needed upgrade,” airport board president, Bob Brown told The Paper.
The grant came from efforts from the board, airport officials and an engineering company from Indianapolis, NGC that manages the grant programs.
“I can’t emphasize enough how hard they’ve worked to get this. They’ve spent a lot of time applying for this grant,” Mayor Vanlandingham said.
NGC will also manage the construction process.
The bids for the job are in, but there is no set date for when construction will begin.
The new runway will improve not only recreational flying, but it will also better serve site selectors and companies who come to visit.
“The airport is a component of infrastructure required to facilitate a robust and expanding economy in the 21st century. Recently, we hosted site visits from out of state companies with CEOs who landed private jets in Marion. We have existing businesses that have officers located in other states. They fly into Marion or Fort Wayne because our airport cannot accommodate certain private corporate airport,” Bill Konya, CEO of the Economic Development Group of Wabash County. “We see the need to upgrade airport facilities over time as essential to the long-term livability of Wabash County as a whole. If we believe that outside investment in Wabash County is critical to our long-term economic growth and viability then the airport should be considered a necessary component.
“The recent grant that the airport secured is a major step in the right direction. Lutheran Hospital’s decision to house one of its helicopters at the airport is an indication of what can happen when opportunity and readiness align.”
The board plans to continue improving the airport, and in the future they plan to bring in jet fuel tanks.
“We would like to add a jet fuel farm. Right now when jets come in, if they need fuel they have to go to Marion or Huntington to get it. We just don’t have that capability, but it’s something we plan on adding in the future,” Brown said.