Re-elect Dan Lipinski Congressman

Romeoville airport wins grant for upgrades


By Joseph Ruzich
Chicago Tribune
Work is expected to begin soon on phase two of a $4.2 million runway reconstruction project at Lewis University Airport in Romeoville.
A $2.5 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) helped start construction in the spring on the eastern half of Runway 9-27, according to state and local officials. The FAA recently awarded an additional $1.3 million grant for construction on the runway's western half and the entire project should be completed before winter.
The state and Joliet Regional Port District are each contributing $211,311 to the project, which includes the installation of new airfield lighting to improve safety.
"The airport is important for economic development in the region," said U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski at an event last week. "It also allows companies access to fly their people in and out of there." The airport, which is located on George Michas Drive, is within the Interstate-55 and Interstate-80 corridor area that has numerous businesses and warehouse developments.
Lipinski, who is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the aviation subcommittee, said funding for the project came out of an FAA reauthorization bill that was passed last year. In 2011, airport officials contacted local and federal officials to help them find funds for the runway, which was old and cracking.
The new runway will allow for larger airplanes and more corporate jets to land. The runway was constructed in the 1960s, according to airport engineering officials, and was not built with the best construction techniques to handle the weight of larger aircraft.
The airport's second runway was built later and is still in good condition, according to airport officials. Romeoville Mayor John Noak added that the airport gets a lot of traffic during NASCAR events at the Chicagoland speedway near Joliet.
"The airport serves a substantial amount of people during those events," Noak said. "In fact, they have to bring a temporary control tower to the airport. It has really become the corporate airport for the northern Will County area." The airport, which serves up to 120,000 airplanes each year, doesn't have a control tower.
Lipinski said he hopes to find some funding for a new tower, but added that it might be difficult because there aren't many federal grants designed for that purpose.

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