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Municipal airport construction cleared for takeoff

John Makinson (left), aircraft flight operations and maintenance officer, and David Carew of Fond du Lac, talk in the cockpit of a B-25H Mitchell bomber at the Fond du Lac County Airport on Tuesday. The plane was flown to Wisconsin to take part in the 2010 Experimental Aircraft Association Airventure in Oshkosh this week. (AP Photo/The Reporter, Justin Connaher)

John Makinson (left), aircraft flight operations and maintenance officer, and David Carew of Fond du Lac, talk in the cockpit of a B-25H Mitchell bomber at the Fond du Lac County Airport on Tuesday. The plane was flown to Wisconsin to take part in the 2010 Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture in Oshkosh this week. (AP Photo/The Reporter, Justin Connaher)

By Ann Knoedler

The Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Fly-In Convention is under way in Oshkosh at the Wittman Regional Airport. Visitors arrive from near and far in their airplanes and RV campers to spend the week soaking up everything aviation.

I’m not an airplane aficionado, but I did discover some interesting facts about airports in Wisconsin. Did you know that there are about 133 publicly owned airports in Wisconsin?

Eight of them provide primary commercial service — these are the airports that receive scheduled passenger service and have more than 10,000 passenger boardings per year. Those eight are: Outagamie County Regional Airport, Appleton; Chippewa Valley Regional Airport, Eau Claire; Austin Straubel International Airport, Green Bay; La Crosse Municipal Airport, La Crosse; Dane County Regional Airport, Madison; General Mitchell International Airport, Milwaukee; Central Wisconsin Airport, Mosinee; and Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport, Rhinelander.

There are also six “reliever” airports designated by the FAA to relieve congestion at a large commercial service airport. During the EAA convention, the Outagamie County Regional and Fond du Lac County airports share reliever airport duties.

But the majority of the world’s air traffic falls under the category of general aviation; these airports provide service for all flights other than military and scheduled passenger service. There are about 74 general aviation airports in Wisconsin .

I don’t need to tell you that air travel is an essential method of getting from point A to point B and travelers expect their flying experience to be safe and comfortable. This year, so far, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Bureau of Aeronautics has issued about 42 airport improvement projects for bidding. The majority of these projects consist of improvements to runways, aprons, taxiways, lighting and fencing, and others call for snow removal equipment and construction of snow removal equipment buildings.

This year, the BOA bid four projects having to do with new or expanded airport terminal buildings (last year there were five). The largest project is for work at The Chippewa Valley Regional Airport in Eau Claire. Since 2008, they have been realizing their terminal expansion and renovation plan.

In 2008, The Samuels Group, Wausau, was awarded a $4,351,672.62 contract for a new addition and remodeling to the terminal building; and another this year for $3,421,761 to construct an enclosed boarding bridge and a 5,000-square-foot addition for a baggage claim carousel and rental car counters.

In March, Market & Johnson, Eau Claire, was awarded a $578,980 contract to expand and remodel the general aviation terminal building at CVRA.

Here’s a brief rundown of the others:

Berghammer Builders Inc., Clayton, is the apparent low bidder at $274,178 for construction of a 1,600-square-foot terminal building at the Solon Springs Municipal Airport (general aviation airport) that bid July 15; and

• on Aug. 19 bids will be received and opened for a new 2,200-square-foot airport terminal building at the Wautoma Municipal Airport (also a general aviation airport).

The next big airport terminal expansion and renovation project to watch for will be at the Central Wisconsin Airport in Mosinee. Phase one, estimated to cost $25 million, will double the size of the 61,500-square-foot facility for more passenger and baggage traffic, plus add about 450 parking stalls. Airport statistics call for an expected increase in passenger boardings from 144,000 last year to 166,500 in 2014.

The schedule for bidding and construction is all still dependent on receiving the necessary money, but a 2011 to 2013 timeline is anticipated.

You never know when your travels may take you to one of the many airports in Wisconsin, but it’s good to know that they’re flying high with new construction and reconstruction.

Ann Knoedler is the lead data reporter at The Daily Reporter. She can be reached at (414) 225-1822.

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