Without safe runways, Willard Airport can’t begin to serve central Illinois. Working with federal and state agencies, Willard’s leadership was able to come up with $13 million to completely replace one of three runways. This winter, the new “crosswind” runway is getting a workout.
Willard Airport has three runways. All runways are critical for both airline operations and flight training. But the Airport’s “crosswind” runway – used when unusual wind patterns develop – was in a state if disrepair. Without attention, it could have been decommissioned.
The last time the crosswind runway was fully paved was 1978. In the more than 40-years since, it has shown signs of significant aging. Airport crews have worked to preserve the pavement to the best condition possible by maintaining cracked concrete panels, panel blow ups, and joint distress. But repairs weren’t going to be enough to keep the runway fully operational.
Working with partners, Willard Airport was able to come up with a funding plan for the $13.2 million project – and only $550,000 came from Willard, itself. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allocated more than $11 million for the runway after it determined the runway was a critical piece of aviation infrastructure. The State of Illinois also contributed a half-million dollars.
The project completely replaced the nine-inch think pavement of the 6,500 foot long runway. More than 54,000 tons of asphalt was used to construct the new pavement surface. Almost 3 miles of airfield cabling for lighting and signage was replaced, and all signs were replaced, too.
The new runway opened in October of last year. It’s been serving American Airlines, private jets, and flight training operations ever since. And it won’t have nearly the maintenance cost as the old pavement, helping the Airport’s budget for many years to come.