Municipal airport getting a new $1.06M terminal

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These preliminary architectural drawings, by MSA Professional Services, depict two different views of the new $1.06 million terminal slated for Prairie du Chien Municipal Airport in 2016.

By Correne Martin

The Prairie du Chien Municipal Airport is getting a $1.06 million terminal in 2016.

The age of the old terminal is not known, but the Federal Aviation Administration feels it has reached its life expectancy, according to City Administrator Aaron Kramer.

“The mechanicals are inefficient and the technology has become inferior,” he said.

Kramer explained that every so often, the city adopts a seven-year plan for its airport. One such plan was last drawn up in 2013.

“The first thing that came up was the condition of the terminal,” he stated, “as well as new equipment, the runway and the fencing.”

The original budget for the project, from May 2015, was $919,000. But, in November, the budget grew to $1.06 million, of which the city is required to provide 9 percent. The new building, at 2,264 square feet, is larger than the existing space.

The FAA is not interested in renovating the current building and will only provide funds for a new facility, Kramer added. “The federal entitlements only allow to pay for new construction,” he said, noting that if the city chose to simply upgrade its existing terminal, it would be responsible for 100 percent of the associated costs. On the other hand, for a new building, the city’s share is projected to be $99,797, though Kramer said the city’s share might be slightly more than $100,000, “once you factor in furnishings and other miscellaneous items to make the building functional.”

“I assume, if we opted for restoration, that would cost more than $100,000,” Kramer stated.

Because of the increase in the overall budget, the Bureau of Aeronautics recommended the city sign a transfer agreement with the Burlington Municipal Airport, which would trade Prairie du Chien’s 2018 entitlement credit for Burlington’s leftover 2012 entitlement credit. According to Kramer, this has been done with two other recent terminal projects—Reedsburg and Monroe—and both of those projects would not have happened if they didn’t approve the swap of funds.

The Burlington Airport has funds of a little less than Prairie du Chien needs ($150,000) remaining from a previous annual entitlement allocation. Burlington offered to swap their FAA credit with Prairie du Chien, which has agreed to take their available 2012 money and sign an agreement for payback in the future.

“In the grand scheme, we’re trading $150,000 in assumed credits for $114,793 in actual credits,” he noted.

The preliminary architectural drawings for the terminal, done by MSA Professional Services, are now in the final stages. In a few months, the city will approve them. The present drawings include amenities such as a larger and improved flight planning and pilots lounge, a larger interior lounge, improved bathrooms, a larger storage area, and a locked mechanical room with traffic control equipment enclosed.

There are no plans to include a weather terminal, as many pilots now obtain forecast and condition details via their smartphones.

“We view the terminal not only as an amenity, but as an economic tool,” Kramer said. “For example, the new business from Kansas that is relocating to our business park flew up here to look at property and make negotiations. The airport certainly played a part in that agreement.”

According to Kramer, the current terminal will likely not be torn down until 2017, when there will be additional federal entitlement funding for that portion of the overall project.

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