Hartford airport ‘unlikely’ to be finished by 2016
‘has no idea’ when work will be done
By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News
April 2, 2015
Recent light at the end
of the tunnel that is the Hartford Airport runway expansion
appears to be a train heading in the wrong direction — fast.
Last month, officials were told the Federal Aviation
Administration was reviewing an environmental assessment
which was not expected to take long. Things have changed
Last week, Airport Manager Darryl Kranz and Airport
Committee Chairman Bob Gehring attended a meeting involving
project engineers Mead and Hunt, officials from the
Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics and the FAA.
“The FAA indicates it has no idea when its work will be
finished. Everyone assumes it will not be until at least
2016 that any serious land acquisition can take place,” City
Administrator Gary Koppelberger said.
Koppelberger believes completion is likely pushed back to at
least 2017, possibly 2018.
“That makes the project longer to complete than World War
II,” Koppelberger said.
He said the city has been working for nearly 14 years on the
“The city proposed a new, east-west
runway in early 2001 based on a runway feasibility study for
the airport conducted by Mead & Hunt and filed with the
Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics,” Koppelberger said. “All
subsequent actions by the city are based on that initial
study, including the development and approval of our runway
layout plan and eventually the current airport master plan.”
The city’s goal has been to finish the
work before the U.S. Open Golf Championship on June 12-18,
2017, at Erin Hills Golf Course.
Mayor Joe Dautermann said the process
has grown even more frustrating.
“Especially so now because a short time
ago we were told it was reasonably certain we’d complete
this next year. Now that’s unlikely,” Dautermann said.
Paul Strege, an engineer for Mead and
Hunt, which has been working on the project for the city,
said some of the delay is due to the FAA’s review of the
environmental impact assessment.
“They want to ensure the document is
accurate and has the proper level of detail,” Strege said.
Matt Malicki of the Wisconsin Bureau of
Aeronautics, who along with the FAA is reviewing the
project’s environmental assessment, said rules over runway
protection zones have slowed the process.
“In the beginning with new rules it
takes longer to get through the process,” Malicki said. “The
law requires a determination of whether there are land uses
that are incompatible with a runway extension within those
zones. If there are, it has to be determined what can be
done to eliminate the incompatibility.”
Malicki said he also doubts any
construction can begin until at least 2017.
“It’s unlikely anything could be done
next year because a lot of time will be needed to complete
the necessary land purchases and that can’t be started until
the environmental assessment gains final approval,” Malicki
said. “Even if construction were to begin in early 2017 I
doubt the entire project could be done by the city’s target
The city was
working for months to convince the FAA to grant an exception
to a rule which would not allow expansion and realignment of
the runway. The city was notified in December the FAA
reversed an earlier decision and agreed to allow the runway
<<EARLIER: Environmental review underway for airport work