Cape airport will close for 10 days

Friday, October 15, 2004

Business Today

Planes won't be taking off or landing at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport for a 10-day period from Oct. 31 to Nov. 10.

The airport runways will be shut down for runway construction work starting at 8 p.m. on Oct. 31. The airport will reopen to general aviation and commuter flights at 5 a.m. on Nov. 10, airport manager Bruce Loy said.

American Connection commuter flights already were scheduled to be shut down during the construction work. The commuter airline provides round-trip flights from Cape Girardeau to St. Louis.

Airport officials had hoped to keep open about a 2,400-foot segment of one runway to general aviation. That would have been long enough to handle small aircraft but not long enough for the commuter planes to land and take off, Loy said.

But the added construction cost involved in such an arrangement was too much, Loy said.

The general contractor estimated it would cost an additional $100,000 -- for added workers, barricades and construction and later removal of a temporary construction road -- on top of the existing $3.5 million construction contract. The city wanted the federal government -- which is already paying the bulk of the cost -- to pay most of the added cost, but the Federal Aviation Administration said it couldn't justify such an expense, Loy said.

Loy said the closure will impact general aviation, including area businessmen who have airplanes they routinely fly on business.

The airport project includes construction of a new taxiway, reconstruction of the intersection of the airport's two runways and earth work on the safety areas at both ends of the main runway.

The runway intersection work is designed to improve drainage. Water has pooled on the pavement during heavy rains, posing a safety hazard for incoming aircraft, Loy said.

The contractor, Emery, Sapp and Sons of Columbia, Mo., plans to work around the clock on the project in order to have most of the improvements completed by Nov. 10, Loy said. The contractor will have 70 to 80 workers dedicated to the project.

The city will pay $172,500 of the construction cost. Federal grant money will pay the rest of the cost, amounting to more than $3 million.

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