Lawrence city commissioners had a wide-ranging discussion Tuesday night of the Lawrence Municipal Airport.
They talked about aggressive plans for a railroad spur and a relocation of U.S. Highway 24-40 as well as basic items like flushing toilets and surveying the property, something that has never been done.
The latter are "baby steps" that need to be done before real growth can happen at the airport, said Rick Bryant, chairman of the Lawrence Aviation Advisory Board.
"We're a little bit behind the curve," Bryant said.
"Through some hard work and diligence we've got the ball rolling forward. I want to keep it rolling forward."
Agreed to pay $33,800 to Black & Veatch for an engineering study of different ways to process sewage from the airport.
Agreed to pay $59,350 to Bucher, Willis & Ratliff to survey and plat the airport property and to put together a stormwater management plan.
Heard a recommendation from Chris Stewart, city water systems engineer, that a new well be dug to serve the airport when more water for fire protection is needed.
Heard a report from Bryant on his efforts to land federal or state grants for airport improvements, as well as the ongoing effort to relocate a Union Pacific rail line around the north end of the airport.
Bryant said Union Pacific is interested in moving the rail line to bypass North Lawrence. But doing so would require the permission of Federal Aviation Administration officials, who have said the rail line would be too near the end of the runway.
"If we can figure out a way to satisfy FAA safety requirements we are in pretty good shape on this project's potential to go through," Bryant said.
Bryant said a rail spur at the airport and possibly an Amtrak station would be an asset.
"You'd have planes, trains and automobiles all in one location," Bryant said.
Bryant also said railroad officials may go to bat for moving U.S. Highway 24-40 to the south to allow a longer runway.
Bryant said he would like to see a much different airport in three years.
Mayor Jim Henry said it could be done if Bryant and others stay committed to the airport cause. "It will be 10 years if we don't talk about it today and get something moving," Henry said.