CIRA May Expand Airfield Repavement Project

A Delta jet navigates the airfield at CIRA during phase one pavement resurfacing work last year. (Image Credit: Central Illinois Regional Airport)

A Delta jet navigates the airfield at CIRA during phase one pavement resurfacing work last year. (Image Credit: Central Illinois Regional Airport)

Airfield pavement at the Central Illinois Regional Airport may need more work than officials had previously thought.

CIRA Executive Director Carl Olson told airport authority board commissioners Tuesday night that after surveying the airfield, staff are considering expanding the scope of the project to include three to four additional taxiways.

“It’s not suitable to simply be crack-sealed, filled and cleaned up,” said Olson. “It actually needs to have an overlay.”

The project is currently scheduled to be completed over three phases, although that could extend to a fourth phase to allow airport operations to continue during construction. Work on phase two is expected to begin in April, with completion early this summer. Phase one was completed last year.

Olson said taking on the additional work in phase three would help the airport save money and move on to other capital improvement projects sooner. Adding the taxiways for resurfacing would as much as double the amount of work currently proposed for phase three.

Cost estimates for the additional work won’t be available until after final analysis of core pavement samples is complete and designs are drawn up.

Olson assured commissioners that the airport has sufficient funds available both from Federal Airport Authority grants and CIRA’s capital funds “to make this additional investment without having any hardship or limiting any of our other capital projects.”

Vendor in Default

A commercial aviation services vendor needs to pay $21,000 to cure the default on its agreement with the airport authority. Another $11,000 is due by the end of the first week of March.

Olson said the airport authority may choose to terminate the agreement if the past due balances aren’t paid in full.

Commissioner Alan Sender worried the board has given the vendor too much leeway given its “problematic” financial track record over the last 10 years.

“I’m not sure what other message we can send,” he said. “We’re gonna send the letter that they’re going to be in default, and on the very cusp of telling them we’re going to act, they’ll throw some dollars our way and we’ll avoid this again until two months from now.”

Olson cautioned that terminating the agreement would set a precedent for future dealings with vendors who might suddenly fall behind on payments.

“We do have a process, and it’s running its course, but I will say we’ve been good-natured, even to our disadvantage,” said Chairman Jay Allen, suggesting the board’s finance committee discuss further action up to rewriting its commercial air service vendor agreements.

Debt Service Payment

Olson said the airport authority’s 2012 general obligation bond fund generated a larger reserve than needed, a surplus it will use to pay down its debt service.

“The legal recommendation is that we make an additional principal payment in the amount of $4M,” said Olson. That would cut three years off the debt repayment schedule and reduce interest payments and fees, saving money for the airport authority and taxpayers, he said.

Olson attributed the surplus reserve to the bond’s variable interest rate.

“At the time we projected higher interest expense than we actually encountered, so we were generating revenue faster than we needed.”

Board commissioners approved the payment in the amount of $4,725,000.

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