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Airport plans a long-term expansion

AIRPORT: The Wabash Municipal Airport announced a long-term expansion plan to the Wabash City Council Monday evening.

by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

The Wabash Municipal Airport detailed a 20-year expansion plan to the Wabash City Council Monday evening.

Mike Evans, of NGC Corporation, said the long-term plan began in earnest in 2013. The comprehensive plan will include reconfiguring the north terminal, hangar redevelopment, extending runways and moving administration to the south terminal.

The north terminal area will be reconfigured in order to develop corporate hangars for smaller corporate aircraft. Eventually, Evans said there could be a future need for a larger hangar in case a corporate entity wanted to house in the Wabash Municipal Airport, though he noted that was beyond the scope of the current plan.

The primary focus right now is with the south terminal area.

“We need to migrate the existing key hangar population of aircraft to demolish those hangars (north terminal), we need to develop hangars in the south area to accomodate those customers,” Evans said. “The reason for doing that is these hangars are aging, and in many cases it becomes a money pit. The current focus is development of hangar space.”

The south terminal will also act as the future home of the terminal building, as well as public parking.

Evans said the terminal building will market to the type of aircraft and users the airport wants in Wabash.

“It (terminal building) is a functional building currently, but by the time this becomes a reality, that building will be at least 50 years old and it is limited in its ability,” Evans said. “The concept is to have an administration building attached to a community hangar.”

For the runways, Evans said the goal is to extend the east-west runway 9-27 from 4,401 feet to 5,000 feet. Mitigation along S. Bailey Road will be needed to accomplish this goal.

“Currently, there isn’t enough justification to consider starting that project,” Evans said. “We need 500 aircraft operations annually, that’s takeoffs and landings for critical aircraft.”

Union Chapel Road would also be impacted by the expansion of 9-27 due to an increase in the runway protection zones and safety areas.

“Closing Union Chapel Road and removing that pavement and providing turn-arounds is the only logical step for that,” Evans said.

The plan also proposed relocating the north-south runway 18-36, as it is too close to hangars to County Road 400S. The idea would be to move it south and east to get it out of safety areas with no land acquisition required. The old runway would then be converted into a taxiway.

Evans called the plan a “fluid, living document,” noting that it will become an “as built” situation once projects are finished and it is dependent on market changes.

Wabash County Board of Aviation Commissioner President Dick Beamer said the plan allows the airport to be eligible for grants from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Beamer said FAA grants fund 90 percent of airport operations, while state funding comprises another 5 percent.