Jun. 4—Officials in Daviess County have long had a dream of having a 5,001-foot-long runway at the Daviess County Airport. At one point this spring it looked like that dream was going to come true. Now, it is back to being a dream.
Although the runway is currently listed for aviation purposes at 4,615 feet, it is actually around 4,800 feet long. For years the airport board has requested funding from the Federal Aviation Administration to pay for the extension of 201 feet but each time it has been turned down.
Early this spring the airport board felt it had enough money saved back in its aviation fund to do the project on its own, without additional FAA funding. Engineer estimates put the project cost at $695,00 but in May, the board decided to put the project on hold.
"Our engineering firm came in and reported that prices on projects are coming in 50% higher than estimated this spring," said Daviess County Airport Manager Eric Seber. "The price of everything has gone up, aggregate, asphalt, you name it, the price has jumped. The project was already close to the maximum we could afford. It didn't make sense to bid out the project now. The board is going to hold off for now and see if prices will fall after the construction rush slows down."
One of the things the FAA had requested was airport traffic numbers that justified an expansion. Those were numbers that easily met the agency's threshold before COVID, but aviation traffic slowed considerably during the pandemic.
"We knew that with the slow down in air traffic during COVID there would be no way we could reach that threshold," said Seber. "Now, things are finally beginning to pick up again. May was very busy and the fuel sales have been way up. We still have some regular customers who have not returned."
While the pandemic slowed operations at the airport, officials have been able to make up some of the loss through grants in the Federal COVID relief packages. The airport received $30,000 in additional funding under the CARES Act, and has applied for another $13,000 under the Corona Virus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
"We can basically spend that money on whatever was needed to keep us in operation," said Seber.
With the runway extension off of the request list for now, the airport board has added a couple of different projects to its FAA request list. One is for an aerial survey to develop a GPS approach from the south. The other is to replace pavement near some of the older hangers.
"That pavement is some of the oldest at the airport and it breaking down," said Seber. "That proposal is under review."
As far as fulfilling the dream of a 5,001 foot runway, that is on hold until either the FAA agrees to a grant or the airport can put together enough money to get the project completed.