Hartford airport project delayed until 2018
10 years in waiting


Nov. 24, 2015

It’s official — the expansion and reconstruction of Hartford Airport runway won’t happen until at least 2018.

The state Bureau of Aeronautics told city officials it completed its environmental assessment of the project and the issue is back in the hands of the city’s consulting engineers at Mead and Hunt.

But not so fast.

“The state advised Mead and Hunt it required additional archaeological field work on the four properties to be acquired as part of the project,” said City Administrator Gary Koppelberger. The request for the field work was made Thursday and the work needed to be completed by Friday. “After a scramble to find contact information for the four property owners and the securing of permission to enter their properties to do additional digging, everything was arranged.”

Three property owners are opposed to the sale of their land.

The Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics indicates the project won’t be undertaken until 2018, he said.

“Assuming that’s true, the project will have passed the 10-year mark,” Koppelberger said. “We have now surpassed the length of time it took to win World War II, and I note with unease that we are approaching the timeline for completion of the Panama Canal.”

City officials hoped to have the project completed before the U.S. Open Golf Tournament will be played at Erin Hills in the summer of 2017.

WBA Airport Development Engineer Matt Malicki said the archaeological tests were rushed.

“We wanted to get the testing done before the weather turned,” Malicki said. “If we hadn’t done the testing last week we might not have been completed until the spring which would have delayed the entire project.”

The old lighting system is one concern.

“We’ve advised the state that the endless delays plaguing this simple project have resulted in a deteriorating runway,” Koppelberger said. Koppelberger said that since the project was proposed, the federal government doubled the city’s share to pay for it.

Malicki said the archeological study was completed Friday, but he does not know if artifacts were found during the dig.

Reach reporter Joe VanDeLaarschot at jvan@conleynet.com.