Gary airport may ask FAA for more funds for runway expansion
By Michelle L. QUinn Post-Tribune correspondent July 23, 2012 3:56PM
Updated: August 25, 2012 6:12AM
GARY — Funding help from the Federal Aviation Administration to close a gap the Gary/Chicago International Airport has in its runaway expansion budget isn’t out of the question, a consultant told the Airport Authority on Monday.
Al Stanley, vice president and chief operating officer for Indianapolis-based JClark Aviation Group, told the board at its Monday meeting that he recently met with FAA officials to discuss whether the letter of intent’s scope could be amended and thus the amount of money the FAA is providing to the airport increased. Stanley said he originally was under the impression that it couldn’t.
After the FAA meeting, however, Stanley said officials told him that while environmental issues, such as discovering toxic substances on expansion land, and other cost overruns fall under the airport’s responsibility, other projects may get consideration and additional funding.
“The meeting was very positive,” Stanley said. “We’re going to be working with the airport to determine which projects to put before the FAA for consideration.”
Several unforseen projects have arisen since the expansion plans were set in 2006, boosting the cost of the project to $166 million from $153 million, Interim Airport Director Steve Landry said. Land purchases to accommodate moving the Canadian National track 100 feet south of its original target and subsequently having to shore up utilities that were never supposed to be under railroad tracks have tacked on expenses.
Monies received from the FAA, the Regional Development Authority, the Chicago Compact, the state and the Federal Highway Administration total $130 million. The funding source for the $27.2 million for the Norfolk Southern Sugar Track relocation, however, never had been allocated, adding to the $30 million gap the airport is now seeking to close, Landry said.
Many of the contracts have come in under budget, Landry added, bringing the total for the expansion closer to $160 million. The airport has chosen not to reduce the $166 million figure in order to have money on hand for other unforseen circumstances.
Airport Attorney Patrick Lyp earlier in the meeting told the board he has initiated quiet title action on four properties the airport purchased for the expansion. The action will render null and void any claims anyone would have on the Truck City, Roland Dump, Fluxocor and Hussein properties with regard to utilities on them.
Lyp also told the board the airport has spoken with the Gary Jet Center attorney and the two have agreed that as long as there are no irreconcilable differences, the airport won’t take any action against the jet center with regard to the Burrell hangar. That hangar now houses high-end vehicle repo company Sage-Popovich Inc.
In other business, the authority approved the following:
It voted 6-0 to approve the $30 million grant agreement with the RDA, of which $12 million will be repaid immediately to the Airport ADZ into which the airport tapped temporarily to cover invoices while the grant was being finalized.
It approved $417,000 in expansion-related change orders, including a $157,260 change order to purchase more fill for the compaction project.