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updated: 7/9/2013 4:08 PM

Ex-Indy airport CEO to helm Gary airport expansion

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Associated Press

GARY, Ind. -- The former CEO of the Indianapolis International Airport has been appointed to oversee a troubled $166 million plan to expand the Gary/Chicago International Airport.

The northwestern Indiana city's airport authority voted 5-1 vote Monday to give John Clark broad authority to oversee other consultants and contractors hired for the project. The Times of Munster reported that Clark's consulting company already has two contracts with the airport to develop a business plan and oversee its privatization effort.

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Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and airport officials announced last week that completion of the airport's expansion will be delayed at least nine months until September 2014 due to environmental problems and disagreements among railroads.

The airport expansion plan includes extending the 7,000-foot runway to 8,900 feet and moving rail lines.

After years of delays, officials had announced three years ago that the expansion would be complete by the end of this year.

The Gary/Chicago International Airport also took some of the final steps Monday needed before they can vote to approve the largest borrowing by the airport in its history.

The airport authority took two votes that advanced a plan to borrow around $35 million. That money is needed to keep the expansion project moving forward and also pay for needed airfield repairs.

The borrowing was not popular with the only two members of the public to speak at the hearing.

"It's like you are setting the airport up for default before you even begin the game," Gary resident Derrick Price said.

The airport authority is expected to take a final vote July 22 on the ordinance authorizing the bonding, which will allow it to borrow up to $65 million if needed.

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