Airport board announces grant for improvements

Feb. 25—The Vermilion Regional Airport Authority Board announced this week upcoming construction with the receipt of $3.8 million in federal grant funding for airport improvements.

The project has been in planning since 2018 with Illinois Department of Transportation Aeronautics as the top priority for the Vermilion Regional Airport Improvement Plan.

During 2021/2022 key compliance deadlines were missed putting these monies at risk of re-distribution to other Illinois airports, according to the board and management.

According to airport officials, airport management in October 2022 was granted compliance extension through December 2022. The airport submittals were completed Dec. 16, accepted and contract agreed between IDOT and Vermilion Regional Airport.

New Federal Aviation Administration standards require a larger runway safety area which means the existing taxiway must be removed and relocated further away from runway 3/21. Taxiway Alpha is approximately 4,000 feet long and critical to the airport's primary runway 3/21. All this is included in three phases of construction to be completed by 2028, according to airport officials.

Runway 3/21 is the most capable runway with 6,000 feet of length, state-of-the-art NAVAIDS (navigational aids on the ground) including ILS (Instrument Landing System), RNAV (area navigation) GPS (Global Positioning System), VOR (Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Range) and Localizer instrument approaches, PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicators) and VASI (Visual Approach Slope Indicators) Visual Glideslope approaches and MALSR (Medium Intensity Approach Lighting System with Runway Alignment Indicator Lights) advance landing lighting.

The runway is critical to the air cargo company which provides the UPS Overnight Express service for the Danville area. The air cargo aircraft loads at the Danville airport Monday through Friday evenings and flies to Louisville, Ky. for the package sort, returning to Danville the next morning. Local company Hyster-Yale also relies heavily on this capability to service its parts customers in the Americas and worldwide, according to airport officials.

A planning meeting is scheduled for late February which will determine the date for construction to start for Taxiway Alpha Refurbishment Phase 1 at the Danville airport.

The airport board was to have a regular meeting earlier this week, but an agenda was not posted 48 hours in advance. This is a provision under the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

The board's next regular meeting is March 21.

According to Interim Airport Manager Rod Hightower, the search for a new airport manager continues.

He reported he had a new interview candidate on Friday.

The airport also is celebrating 75 years this year.

The Vermilion Regional Airport was completed and opened for business in 1948.

VRA is a publicly owned, public use, general aviation airport located in Vermilion County four miles northeast of the city of Danville.

The airport provides over two miles of paved surface with three runways, one over 6,000 feet long and another that is a turf runway with a 150-foot-wide surface. The airport features taxiways and roadways with lighting and navigation systems, in addition to a full-service Fixed Base Operator that provides Jet A fuel and 100LL fuel.