The Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling will extend one of its runways and make safety improvements with funding from a $5.3 million capital project grant announced Thursday.
About 90 percent of the funding for the project will come from the Federal Aviation Administration, 5 percent from the state and 5 percent from the airport, said Jamie Abbott, the facility's acting executive director.
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The project will include installation of an Engineered Material Arresting System, a large area of specially engineered crushable concrete at the end of a runway that can slow or stop an aircraft that overruns the airstrip. It will be added to a runway on the south side of the airport, 500 feet away from Palatine Road, which is the one most frequently used for jets, Abbott said.
FAA standards recommend runway endings be at least 1,000 feet from major roads.
Abbott said the last time a plane went off the runway at Chicago Executive was more than 10 years ago.
"It just shows that Chicago Executive is dedicated to safety improvements," he added. "It will be reassuring to pilots that use our airport that we take the steps necessary to make this airport as safe as possible."
According to a news release from Gov. Pat Quinn's office, Curran Contracting Co. of Crystal Lake will perform the work on their bid of $5,364,507. Construction is expected to begin in May.
The Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics will manage the project. The airport is jointly owned by the village of Wheeling and city of Prospect Heights.
"Investments in airports like this one in Wheeling make them safer and more efficient," Quinn said. "The project will also employ a number of construction workers, which will drive local economy forward."
"I'm happy to see the state invest in Chicagoland's third busiest airport," state Sen. Julie Morrison said in the release. "A small suburban airport like Palwaukee (CEA's former name) provides local employers a convenient means of transportation, helping them attract top talent and do business all over the country."
State Rep. Elaine Nekritz was quoted in the release saying investments in key economic cores like the Chicago Executive Airport "are critical to keeping people at work and ensuring that our region continues to move forward. This project will serve as a boon to the local economy while guaranteeing the airport's vital role as a state-of-the-art hub for transportation and commerce."
The state funds for the project come from the $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program, the largest capital construction program in Illinois history, and one of the largest capital construction programs in the nation.
"We are very thankful," Abbott said. "Without the support of the state and the FAA, projects of this size would not be feasible for us."