by Hal Davis
WisDOT Bureau of Aeronautics
Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine – April/May 2021 issue
During a year unlike any other, 2020 was remarkably “normal” as it related to airport improvement projects in Wisconsin. As with many other aspects of life, the pandemic posed new challenges and required some adjustments, but by and large the work still got done. Runways were reconstructed, terminal buildings were built, and other airport improvements were completed without delay or cancellation. In total, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation funded 43 different projects at 45 airports last year and design was started for an additional 24 future projects.
Perhaps the most notable project of 2020 was the reconstruction and extension of Runway 7L/25R at Kenosha Regional Airport. This $19 million project extended the runway by 1,100 feet and included a full reconstruction of the parallel taxiway. As a result of the project, approach minimums for runway 25R were improved. Remarkably, what was anticipated to be a two-year project, was completed in less than a year.
Runway reconstruction projects were completed at Monroe and Viroqua Municipal Airports as well. Other significant airfield improvements included the completion of Taxiway M at Dane County Regional Airport and the reconstruction of Taxiway A at Oshkosh. Other airfield paving projects were completed at Rhinelander, Hartford, Cumberland, La Crosse, Burlington, and Janesville.
In addition to the fresh asphalt, 2020 saw the completion of several airport buildings. At Richland Airport, a new terminal was constructed, replacing what was one of the last “vintage” terminal buildings in the state. In Sheboygan, a joint-use terminal and customs building was completed while Rhinelander completed renovation work on part of their terminal. Other notable projects included: a maintenance building at Clintonville, hangar at Wisconsin Rapids, fuels system at Wausau, and perimeter fence at Lakeland.
Airport closures are expected for some time during the 2021 construction season at Boyceville, Shawano, Price County, and Land O’Lakes airports due to runway reconstruction projects. Middleton Municipal – Morey Field will also be closed temporarily as part of a full lighting system upgrade. The reconstruction of Runway 17/35 at Central Wisconsin Airport will also have airfield impacts. As always, check Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) before your flight to make sure there are no unwelcome surprises.
In addition to the numerous airfield improvement projects planned for 2021, several projects across the state will focus on other types of airport accommodations. Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh will be constructing a new terminal building and both Green Bay and Dane County will also be making improvements to their terminals. Finally, Kenosha will begin work on their customs facility.
For more information on past and future airport development projects, including the Bureau of Aeronautics’ Five-Year Airport Improvement Program, visit the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website at wisconsindot.gov and type in “airport five-year plan” in the search bar or call (608) 266-3351.