Airport lands FAA grant

Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2016
By: Kevin Green

The New Castle Board of Aviation Commissioners has received some very welcome news. State and federal sources combined are providing nearly $3 million to fund construction of a new runway at the New Castle-Henry County Municipal Airport.

“We got full funding on the grant we applied for,” BoAC secretary Ed Hill said. “It will allow us to grade and drain all of the west side, and we got the grading and drainage work on the east side done last year. We’ll be able to pave the entire runway and the connectors to the old runway. There’s actually even a little bit of extra money that will allow us to do the striping.”

The BoAC will receive a total of $2,908,369. Of that, $2,617,532 has been pledged by the Federal Aviation Administration and $116,334.76 is coming from the Indiana Department of Transportation. The city and county are contributing a total of $174,502.24 and there is an additional $150,000 coming from the FAA that is being awarded as part of its annual airport improvement funding award process.

“That’s a pretty good deal, to get almost $3 million for a local investment of $175,000,” Hill noted.

The board has been working on the construction of a longer, wider runway that will accommodate small jet-powered and large propeller-powered aircraft for the past decade. Assorted elected officials and community leaders have said the larger runway is needed to enhance local economic development efforts and to accommodate companies already doing business in Henry County.

“I’ve been on the board for 10 years now and we’ve been working on this goal that whole time,” board president Maurie Goodwin said. “It just goes to show you never know what’s going to happen and this was quite an exciting surprise.”

New Castle Mayor Greg York, who serves on the local aviation board, shared his thoughts regarding the funding news.

“This is some of the most exciting news we’ve had in 15 years,” York said. “It allows us to tell Crown, Boar’s Head and other businesses coming to New Castle to look at our community that they can land here instead of us having to pick them up in Muncie or Mount Comfort or Richmond. This truly is just awesome. Companies that are growing in corporate America want to fly in and now we can join the rest of the world with a runway that can handle jets. That’s huge for our community.”

The mayor also complimented the board for being aggressive in seeking the needed funds.

If all goes as planned, preliminary construction of a new runway that is at least 4,200 feet long by 75 feet wide should begin this fall with the bulk of the construction taking place as soon as the weather allows in the spring. Hill said the board will continue to push for 5,000 feet with respect to the runway’s length, but at present the FAA has only approved 4,200 feet.

“This puts us back on track on a five year plan,” Hill said. “Now we can get this part of it done while still working on our goal of 5,000 feet.”

The BoAC has acquired all of the land needed for the longer runway, but Hill said airspace and a wildlife management plan must still be completed.

“This really helps the county and the city and we’re just ecstatic to learn the funding we’ve been asking for has been approved,” Hill said. “It’s safe to say this is a coup, it’s really a big deal!”