$1.7 million airport project sees completion

Following several years of planning — and many delays caused by weather and waiting on approvals from the state — the $1.7 million construction project at the Northwest Missouri Regional Airport has been completed.

It is one the city of Maryville and the city’s airport board believe will not only help many local residents but will also aid with economic development in the region.

“These improvements will enable us to capture more air traffic in the community and open up economic development opportunities,” City Manager Matt LeCerf said. “It gives us that element that we didn’t have before.”

Airport Board Member Bruce Twaddle agreed with LeCerf that the improvements made to the airport are vital to the community.

“We know from experience that many companies make the decision to locate or not locate in a community based on aviation access for their corporate planes,” Twaddle said. “We as a board believe that the improvements to the airport are essential for economic development.”

The idea for the project came back in 2001, when the city and the board recognized a need and established their Airport Master Plan.

“At that time, an engineering firm was hired to assist us to that end,” Twaddle said. “It was during this time frame the airport was renamed Northwest Missouri Regional Airport, in recognition of its importance to the entire Northwest Missouri region.”

Terminal building

In July of 2003, the city made a presentation of their master plan to US Senator Kit Bond and other state dignitaries, which called for an extension of the runway, a new terminal building, reworking of roads surrounding the airport and new taxiway and apron areas for general aviation purposes.

“Much to the support of Sen. Bond,” LeCerf said, “they got a grant toward establishing a new terminal building.”

In January 2004, Sen. Bond was able to secure approximately $400,000 for the project. Construction then began on the terminal building in spring of 2006 by Herner Construction, Inc., St. Joseph, and that part of the project was completed in early 2007.

“This building is used by pilots for weather and flight briefings and is a very nice conference room for flight education, board meetings and use by the community for meetings of any nature,” Twaddle said.

Other improvements

The portion of the project that included the lengthening of the runway, three new taxiways and new apron areas began in May of 2008 by Loch Sand and Construction, Maryville, and was just completed in May of this year.

Twaddle said their plan included the lengthening of the primary runway by 600 feet to a total of 4,600 feet, which allows larger business jets and turbo prop aircraft to take off and land safely.

He said they also made significant improvements to the lighting of the runway, including high intensity runway end lights and Precision Approach Path Indicator lights.

“These two lighting systems are extremely important to landing in a safe manner at night or in bad weather,” he said.

The total cost of the project, including the terminal building and all other improvements, came in at approximately $1.7 million. But because of grants and other federal and state funding, less than 10 percent actually came from the city of Maryville.

“For a $1.7 million project, we’ve spent around $150,000. What we get in return is well worth the expense,” said LeCerf.

Looking ahead

While this project has finally been completed, LeCerf said there is more work to be done from the master plan.

“We’re certainly not done,” he said. “Our next step is to do fueling improvements, one for Jet A and the other for Avgas.”

According to Twaddle, this will also help with business jets who need to refuel while in Maryville.

The city is actively pursuing grants to do this, as the cost to complete it will be approximately $300,000.

Also, the master plan calls for more extensions to the runways and a corporate hangar to house business planes who are visiting Northwest Missouri.

“We have not yet secured the funds to do this but hope to be able to do so in the near future,” said Twaddle.

The city and airport board plan to have a grand opening in September that will coincide with the local general aviation pilot’s annual pancake breakfast.

The Northwest Missouri Regional Airport is located just west of Maryville on Highway 46. For more information, call 660.582.2233.

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