Airport runway intersection to be rebuilt at busy Mitchell

Work to rebuild the intersection of the two longest runways at General Mitchell International Airport, which continues to set passenger records, will begin this year with a $4.25 million project.

The project will be the first of three phases to rebuild the intersection of the 9,690-foot-long north-south runway and the 8,012-foot-long east-west runway.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is providing $3,187,500 for the project’s first phase. The state is providing $531,406 and Milwaukee County is providing $531,406.

The pavement in the runway intersection has deteriorated and has surpassed its useful life, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Construction of the first phase of the runway intersection project will occur this year. It is not expected to disrupt air traffic, according to the DOT. Construction for the second phase of the runway intersection rebuild will take place next year and the third phase will take place in 2013.

Passenger traffic at the airport continues to rise. March was the 19th straight month of record passenger numbers at Mitchell International. The total of 896,158 passengers represents a 3.78 percent increase over March 2010. In the first quarter of 2011, the airport served 2,256,103 passengers, up 2.88 percent over the same period in 2010.

“The airport is a major economic driver and plays a tremendous role in bringing both business and tourism to Milwaukee County,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “When you’re in the airport, you can see and feel the vibrant energy of a growing number of passengers. Mitchell International has created a buzz with the region’s lowest airfares.”

Mitchell ranked among the top 30 fastest-growing airports in the world in 2010, according to Airports Council International. With 56 markets, Mitchell has moved up to 28th among U.S. airports in number of markets served nonstop, according to data published by the Brookings Institute.

U.S. Department of Transportation data for the fourth quarter of 2010 shows that the average airfare out of Milwaukee dropped lower than the average at 93 other U.S. airports. Mitchell’s average fare was $98 less than O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, $78 less than the national average and $16 less than Chicago Midway International Airport.

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