With more than $3 million in FAA funds, the Lawrence Airport Advisory Board announced Thursday night its plans to move forward with airport expansion and rehabilitation they say will increase air traffic into Lawrence.
"We'll have pretty much a brand-spanking new airport," Rick Bryant, board chair, said.
According to Bryant, he and the board often have applied for federal funds but were denied time after time. In October, U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., stepped in. Soon after, the FAA granted the Lawrence Airport their requested money.
Even more recently, Moore convinced the FAA to leave the allocation of that money up to Lawrence officials to use as they deem necessary.
The Aviation Advisory Board said that money, matched with city funds, will be used to extend the airport apron, where planes are parked, from 18,000 to 33,000 square yards and to rehabilitate the taxiway.
Apron and taxiway construction will take place this summer and should be completed by September. In 2002, airport officials will extend the main runway as well.
The improvements will allow the airport to accommodate jets carrying 12 to 18 passengers. This allows for a greater influx of corporate jets, including NASCAR drivers and crews destined for the new track in Wyandotte County, only 20 minutes away.
Board members said increased airport traffic not only will benefit the airport, but the city as well, as more visitors pour into Lawrence.
"We hope to use it as a true asset to the community -- and it's going to be," said Marty Kennedy, a city commissioner who attended Thursday's meeting.
"From an operational standpoint, its been necessary for years," Bryant said.
Groundbreaking is scheduled for July 5 and the construction managers hope to have the first phase completed around Sept. 1.
-- Staff writer Amber Stuever can be reached at 832-7165.