Terre Haute, November 3, 2016
The Terre Haute Regional Airport Authority has received a $3.5 million federal grant to support the conversion of its third runway to a taxiway. The conversion of Runway 18-36 to Taxiway ‘F’ was not taken lightly as Airports do not like to lose a runway. Due to the intersections of the three runways increasing opportunities for pilot error as well as the deterioration of Runway 18-36, it was determined to convert this runway to a new taxiway. This conversion will create safety improvements in runway flow. Extensive discussions between the Airport Authority, FAA, INDOT, Woolpert (an architecture, engineering and geospatial firm specializing in aviation industry), and tenants took place to ensure the best decision was being reached. The current Runway 18-36, would require significant costs and ongoing investment to continue serving as a runway. This cost would come from Airport Authority funding. The FAA and INDOT stated they would not contribute any funding runway 18-36. The Airport still requested Woolpert prepare estimates to better understand the cost impacts to the Airport’s local funds. Woolpert prepared two different five (5) year plans looking at the Airport funding Runway 18-36 rehabilitation and another option looking at the FAA and INDOT funding the conversion of runway 18-36 to taxiway ‘F’. Based on these estimates, it was determined that the focus of the airport should be on economic development and self-sufficiency instead of rehabilitating Runway 18-36. With INDOT and the FAA funding 94% of this conversion, the airport can continue to look at new hangars and apron space, to allow for more users at the airport and increased revenue generation. The Taxiway F option is best suited to capitalize on the airport’s continuing role in regional economic development.
The decision followed an open and collaborative process with tenants and the FAA. The decision to participate in the federal program of safety improvements allows the airport to gain state and federal funding, to further its goal of self-sufficiency and to invest with an eye to the future. Nick Isenberg, of Woolpert and Project Manager at THRA, said the decision was the airport authority’s to make and that a number of factors came into play. “Our number one goal is to provide the safest airport, for our based and transient users,” he said. Financial considerations are always a factor as well. “And, to renovate the third runway would cost an estimated $3 million dollars,” he added. In addition to the reconstruction costs, an estimated $3 million could be expected in future upkeep and maintenance. This option not only makes sense for the Airport, but the pilots, community, region, and State.
Construction is set to begin on the project in 2017. Terre Haute Regional Airport, Hulman Field (HUF) is situated in the Wabash Valley of Indiana – the heart of the Midwest. Private flight, military operations including unmanned systems and top-flight university programs are located at the airport, noted for its long runways and 24/7 manned control tower.