General Mitchell International Airport plans to build a $16 million extension of one of its runways and taxiways to meet federal safety requirements.
The project will extend the airport’s main east-west runway adding 539 feet to the west. The project is necessary because the federal government requires a 1,000-foot object free safety area at the end of each runway, said airport spokeswoman Pat Rowe.
The project will be paid for with $12 million in funds from the Federal Aviation Administration, $2 million in state funds and $2 million in Milwaukee County funds. All of the county’s funds for airport improvements are from fees paid by the airlines, Rowe said. The state’s funds are from airline property taxes, aircraft fuel taxes and aircraft registration fees, she said.
“This is not property tax money,” Rowe said.
The first phase of the project was completed last year when South 6th Street was rerouted with a curve to provide room for the runway extension.
The runway extension project will begin this fall. The project is one of several phases of improvements planned at the airport to conform with FAA design standards for property runway safety.
The airport has been attracting record traffic levels as AirTran Airways, Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines are in a tough battle for market share. The airport has reported 11 consecutive months of record passenger growth. In the first seven months of 2010, the airport served 5,713,942 passengers, an increase of 1.4 million (31.3 percent) over the same period in 2009.