ROCHELLE – The Rochelle Municipal Airport recently completed a $3.2 million three-phase runway and taxiway renovation project.
The first phase of the project involved tearing up the old asphalt ramp leading to the taxiway and runway and rebuilding it out of much stronger and longer lasting concrete. The second phase of the project was tearing up the old runway that was beginning to fall apart to resurface, repaint and implement new groove drainage technology for the new runway.
The final portion of the project involved relocating the old taxiway from the beginning of the runway toward the middle to act like a speed bump for planes entering the runway. This entire project ensures the safety of the pilots as well as updates the quality of the runway itself.
“The main reason was to maintain the infrastructure of the airport because those areas were beginning to wear out and the surfaces were beginning to break down,” airport manager Mike Hudetz said. “We also implemented new drainage grooving technology instead of the previously used, friction course, so the runway drains quicker and last longer.”
All the lights along the runway were also rewired with a special lightning suppression system since they had been hit by lightning twice in the last two years. The total cost of the project was $3.2 million, but 90 percent was paid for by the federal government, 5 percent through the state and the city paid the remaining 5 percent
The airport has been working towards getting the runway redone since 2016 and work finally began last fall. The ramp was completed last fall, the taxiways in April and the runway took the duration of April, May, June and was finished in mid-July.
“The runway had to be closed down on and off during the entire process, but we are back to normal now and it was very worth it in the long run,” Hudetz said. “It really gives the whole airport a new makeover and this is one of the most active airports in the area for general, commercial and sport aviation. We have skydiving, pilot training and even the restaurant. It is a really good airport for people to enjoy aviation by observation or to actually get involved in it.”
The airport is already planning its second-phase ramp project of turning its other asphalt ramp into concrete, as well as rebuilding certain airplane hangars that were originally built in 1963.