Iowa City Airport reopens

After nearly five weeks of construction, Iowa City Municipal Airport (IOW) has reopened for limited operations.

Runway 12/30 was reopened Sept. 6  for daylight operations.

“It is limited to daytime VFR only for right now because of an incomplete lighting system,” said Michael Tharp, operations specialist at the airport.

The airport was closed Aug. 3 so that runway 7/25, which measures 5,004 feet, and runway 12/30, which measures 3,900 feet, could be reconstructed. The runways intersect, which necessitated closing the entire airport for safety, according to Tharp, who noted the runway’s reopening was delayed six days because of weather.

Both runways date back to the late 1940s and early 1950s and were in need of repair, but the decision to do the work in the middle of the flying season did not sit well with many pilots or business owners who rely on the airport.

“It was unfortunate, but necessary to take advantage of airport improvement and economic stimulus funds that require the money be used in a specific time frame, and taking advantage of the good weather,” Tharp explained. “We were shut down for about 26 days. We moved the schedule around a little bit so that we could be open during Oshkosh week and some other events. It was inconvenient for the pilots, but compare 26 days of inconvenience to 50 years worth of new pavement.”

The FAA provided a little over $4 million of the $4.12 million required for the job. The FAA funds, received in early June, required the money be used in a specific timeframe. Tharp described it as a “use it or lose it” proposition.

The airport has been in existence since the Golden Age of aviation. It was a stop for the fledgling airmail service and was used by the military during World War II. Until 2006 the airport had three runways. Runway 18/36 was closed in 2006 because the FAA determined it was not necessary for the safety of the airport and chose not to fund its maintenance.

Tharp estimates the remaining construction will be completed by Nov. 8.

For more information: ICgov.org/airport.

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