The city of Morris is pursuing an extension of the runway at the municipal airport and a master plan completed by TKDA Engineering confirms the need.
City manager Blaine Hill said at the Aug. 13 city council meeting that when TKDA began to mention the runway expansion with city officials, federal and state authorities responded quickly. So quickly that the master plan hadn’t even been completed, he said.
“They jumped on it before it was finished just because they liked it so well,” Hill said of the runway extension.
TKDA continued to work on the plan which has both short term and long term recommended projects.
The council approved the airport plan after it was presented by Marcus Watson of TKDA.
The runway extension will accommodate larger planes and a small commercial jet, Watson said.
“The largest plane now is a turboprop plane owned by Superior,” Watson said. “They are expected to upgrade to a business jet.”
The business jet will need a longer runway, Watson said.
Superior’s use of the airport is a factor in expanding the runway. The company will help pay for the expansion by covering the city’s local share of the project cost, Hill said.
State and federal money usually covers 90 percent of most airport improvement projects.
Larger planes and commercial jets will need more room for parking, which is another short term recommendation in the airport plan, Watson said.
The plan also calls making additional space for future hangar development, Watson said.
Watson said the already busy airport will get busier in the next 20 years. The airport had 18 aircraft based there in 2016 with 6,120 total operations. Total operations include landings and take off. Those numbers will increase to 20 based aircraft and 6,722 total operations in 2021 to 24 based aircraft and 7,572 total operations in 2036, Watson said.
“There are about 20 (landings and take offs) a day,” Watson said. Activity includes recreational flights, air cargo use, agriculture use and local business use, Watson said.
The long term recommendations in the airport master plan include expanding the runway to 5,400 feet, remove and replace an aging T hangar, expand hangar development areas, build a dedicated snow removal equipment building, lower approach visibility minimums.