JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Attention passengers! A multi-million dollar project is underway at a mid-Michigan airport to make it a safer place to fly.
Nearly $50 million is being spent to improve the Jackson County Airport.
It’s a project that’s been going on for 15 years.
After concentrating on improvements to the area surrounding the airport, sights are finally being set on where flights come and go.
“The purpose of this project is to install 1,000 feet of safety area at each end of the runway. That gives us sufficient flat land to install the safety areas that are required by the FAA,” said Airport Manager Kent Maurer.
To make that happen, Maurer says they’ll have to close down the main runaway and build a new one.
“It’s in case an aircraft had to leave the paved part of the runway, that there’s a place to recover without dropping into a ditch or crossing a road,” Maurer said.
Maurer says the overall cost of the project is around $49 million.
$42 million is flying in from state and federal funds, with the remaining balance being picked up by the county.
This airport may seem small compared to others across Michigan, but it has a big impact on the economic health of Jackson.
The airport mostly serves small planes for private and business use.
It is also used to train pilots.
Maurer says while the new runway may not translate to more passenger traffic, it will make sure Jackson stays open for business.
“The economic impact of the airport every year is about $18 million dollars,” Maurer said. “It was really build a new one or risk having a main runway that was not long enough for corporate aircraft.”
Construction will start next month, and is expected to finish by November.
If you’d like an up close look at improvement plans or learn about how construction will impact travel, the airport is holding an open house Thursday March 16.
It’s happening from 4 to 6 p.m. in the EAA Chapter No. 304 meeting room at the airport.
The community is welcome to attend.