Pardon Our Dust: Annual Airport Construction Update

by Hal Davis
WisDOT Bureau of Aeronautics
Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2020 issue

Between planning, design and construction, airport projects often take several years to make it from inception to ribbon cutting. In 2019, we celebrated the completion of a couple projects that were a bit more involved than the typical airport improvement project. First, Runway 11/29 at Hartford Municipal Airport, Hartford, Wis., was extended and realigned to become Runway 09/27. Second, the long-anticipated Instrument Landing System (ILS) for Runway 21 began service at Sawyer County Airport, Hayward, Wis. We thank and congratulate everyone who played a role in any of our airport improvement projects last year.

2019 Recap

In addition to the Hartford runway project, other runway reconstruction projects were completed at Burnett County (Siren, Wis.) and Langlade County (Antigo, Wis.) airports. Other significant airfield pavement improvements were made at Sheboygan, La Crosse, Green Bay and Wisconsin Rapids.

In 2018, the FAA provided a supplemental $1 billion in discretionary grants for airport improvement projects. As one of the recipients of this supplemental funding, Central Wisconsin Airport (Mosinee, Wis.) was able to make improvements to their terminal, including the installation of new passenger boarding bridges.     

At Appleton International Airport (Appleton, Wis.), work was completed on a state-of-the-art airport rescue and firefighting (ARFF) training facility. The facility features a live burn area and realistic Boeing 777 and Cessna Skyhawk training props, designed to provide trainees with real-world, hands-on experience with aircraft-specific firefighting and rescue scenarios. This unique facility is expected to serve a critical role in the certification of ARFF personnel in Wisconsin, the country, and throughout the world.

In total, WisDOT funded 46 different projects at 34 airports last year, not counting all the planning and design work for future projects.

2020 Outlook

Full airport closures are expected at Viroqua, Land O’Lakes, and Monroe airports this summer due to runway reconstruction projects. The reconstruction and extension of Runway 7L/25R will also cause some major impacts to Kenosha Regional Airport (Kenosha, Wis.). Elsewhere, the ongoing, multi-year Taxiway M project at Dane County Regional Airport (Madison Wis.) will wrap up this summer, along with some other improvements to Taxiways B and J. A plethora of airfield improvements are also slated for Burlington, Timmerman, General Mitchell, Oshkosh, East Troy, and Adams County. As always, check NOTAMs before your flight to make sure there are no unwelcomed surprises.

In addition to the airfield improvement projects, there will be several projects across the state which focus on improvements to airport facilities. Extensive upgrades are planned for the Rhinelander terminal, while Appleton will be installing new passenger boarding bridges. Richland Airport (Sextonville, Wis.) will be receiving a new terminal building altogether. Finally, customs facilities will be constructed at both Sheboygan and Kenosha airports.

For more information on past and future airport development projects, including the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics’ Five-Year Airport Improvement Program, visit the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website at and type in “airport five-year plan” in the search bar or call (608) 266-3351.

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