Environmental review underway for airport work
Officials believe work will be done in time for 2017 US Open
By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News
March 20, 2015
believe they’re getting closer to breaking ground on a
proposed airport runway expansion project. Their goal is
to complete the work before the U.S. Open Golf
Championship at Erin Hills on June 12-18, 2017.
City Administrator Gary Koppelberger told other city
officials the review of the project’s preliminary
environmental assessment has been partially completed by
“(The state is) waiting on one last set of comments to
complete,” Koppelberger said in a memo to city
officials. “We contacted the (Federal Aviation
Administration) and learned that their review was
started concurrently with the (Wisconsin Bureau of
Aeronautics). That said, they do not anticipate the
review time to be lengthy.”
The project’s completion appears more certain to city
officials compared to a few years ago when there
appeared to be little or no chance of the project being
finished on time or even at all.
The city was notified in December the FAA had reversed
its earlier decision and agreed to allow major
reconstruction at the airport. The FAA accepted the
city’s argument the new runway layout the city had
proposed was a better alternative than reconstructing
the exiting runway.
The city had been working for many months to convince
the FAA to grant Hartford an exception to a rule which
would not allow expansion and realignment of the
existing runway. The council had been told the project
may not happen because of a new regulation that would
require eliminating or rerouting Highway U from a
“non-intrusion zone” at the west end of the proposed
runway. If the city were forced to move or eliminate the
highway, the additional cost would be substantial and
likely prohibit the runway project from proceeding.
“Any movement now is still faster than the glacial pace
the entire matter was moving at earlier in this
process,” Alderman and Airport Commissioner Tim Michalak
said. “I’m being told it’s still believed the project
will be finished before the golf tournament. The federal
government will pay 90 percent of the cost. The state
and city will split the remaining 10 percent evenly.”
The city has sought to have the work done by tournament
time because the event attracts worldwide participants
and visitors making the airport a central location for
visitors coming and going from the community.
Several tasks are still needed before the project is
completed. Koppelberger said they include:
■ A period of 30 days to allow for advertisement to
inform the public of the opportunity to review the
preliminary environmental assessment.
■ A public hearing/open house.
■ A period to address the public comments and
incorporate them into the environmental assessment.
■ A period of 30 days to submit and allow review of the
■ The FAA issuing the final environmental determination.
“After the environmental assessment is complete, land
acquisition and design can start concurrently,”
Koppelberger said. “The time required to acquire the
land will exceed that required for the design.”
Michalak said he believes the city has been working on
getting the project completed for at least the last