Pardon Our Dust: Annual Airport Construction Update

by Hal Davis
WisDOT Bureau of Aeronautics
Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine April/May 2023 Digital Issue

Paving Runway 01/19 at Price County Airport.
Photo courtesy of Becher-Hoppe Associates, Inc.

Anyone living in Wisconsin, or the Midwest for that matter, knows that the weather dictates many aspects of life. The old joke is, we have two seasons, winter, and road construction. On the airport though, the construction season is year-round. During the warmer months, crews often work into the night to avoid impacting airport users and to get all pavement work done before the days turn cold. Conversely, the cold winter months are the ideal time to tackle tree trimming and removal to ensure approach areas are free from obstructions. The frozen ground minimizes environmental impacts and is healthier for the trees. This past winter, trees were trimmed and removed at Amery, Ashland, Prairie du Chien, Price County, and Tomahawk airports as part of a unique state-funded program to restore and maintain existing instrument flight procedures in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) initiatives. In total, the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics (BOA) funded projects at 34 airports last year. Included were 21 construction projects, eight equipment projects, three land projects, four planning projects, and design work for an additional 20 future projects.

2022 Recap

Newly raised and reconstructed Runway 9/27 at Tri-County Regional Airport, along with water management improvements. Photo courtesy of Westwood

In 2019, rumors about closing the often-flooded Tri-County Regional Airport in Lone Rock percolated throughout our Wisconsin aviation community following an especially bad flood. Fortunately, this past summer a major project to alleviate future flooding was completed. The project reconstructed and raised the elevation of Runway 09/27. Perhaps more significantly, several water management improvements were made both on and off the airport to ensure proper drainage.

Perimeter fence at Stevens Point.
Photo courtesy of Westwood.

Elsewhere in Wisconsin, major runway reconstruction projects were completed at Boyceville Municipal Airport, Dodge County Airport, Fond du Lac County Airport, Iowa County Airport, Price County Airport, and Stevens Point Municipal Airport. No matter where you fly in Wisconsin, a freshly paved runway with bright new lights isn’t far away.

After over 10 years or planning and coordination, a 5.5-mile-long perimeter fence was finally installed at Stevens Point Municipal Airport in 2022. The fence should help keep terrestrial wildlife off an airport that has a history of wildlife strikes. The project was especially complicated due to the need to relocate a very popular recreational trail and access road.

Hangar, and hangar area improvements, were also completed at Burlington, Manitowish Waters, and Oconto airports, and fuel farm upgrades were made at Baraboo and Wisconsin Rapids.

2023 Outlook

This summer is shaping up to be as busy as ever with several notable construction projects around the state. Runway rehabilitation projects are expected at Central Wisconsin, Green Bay, Mauston, Merrill, and West Bend. Some readers may recall that Central Wisconsin recently finished reconstructing Runway 17/35. The project will now shift attention to reconstructing Runway 08/26. The project will also decouple the runways by shifting Runway 08/26 further east, thereby fixing an infamous “hot spot,” and improving airfield safety.

Apron improvements are planned for Appleton, Merrill, Monroe, and New Richmond this summer, while hangar, or hangar area improvements, are planned at Chippewa Valley, Kenosha, Lancaster, Platteville, and Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh. In addition, the multi-year, $85 million south terminal expansion project at Dane County Regional Airport is expected to wrap up later this year. Meanwhile in Rhinelander, new boarding bridges will be installed.

Many of these projects will result in temporary and long-term runway closures. As always, check Notices to Air Missions (NOTAMs) before your flight to make sure there are no unwelcomed surprises. 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 and type in “airport five-year plan” in the search bar or call (608) 266-3351.


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