Mitchell Airport Could Receive Stimulus Funds

Airport may get more than $30 million


MILWAUKEE --

More than $30 million in federal stimulus money could be headed for Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport.

Stimulus Money Could Be Headed To Milw.International Airport

The Transportation Security Administration has requested funding for a $28 million project for ticketing area security. Another $5 million of stimulus money would be used to extend each runway by 1,000 feet.

The runway extension would give pilots more room to handle a plane in an emergency and has already been planned, following a January 2007 incident where a Northwest Airlines flight skidded 400 feet off a Mitchell runway when an engine forced an aborted takeoff during falling snow. The project would have been paid for with grant money, but the Federal Aviation Administration wants to use stimulus dollars, which would free up cash for other airport projects.

“Just in case something happens, an airline lands and needs some additional runway,” airport employee Pat Rowe said.

Anyone who has checked in with an airline at Milwaukee’s airport is familiar with the struggle to get luggage back to the security area for scanning. That could change with the TSA request for an in-line baggage system under Homeland Security stimulus money. The new system would relocate the large scanners from the lobby to out of sight behind the scenes.

“If I do fly at like 6 o'clock on a Thursday morning, it's usually really congested right here,” airline customer Jean Francis said. “So I think it's a wonderful idea, especially if you're giving people more jobs.”

Kevin Richter works in construction, and his Oak Creek family also travels with a lot of bags.

“I'm all for the expansion of the airport. I think it would create a lot of good jobs,” Richter said. “It'd be great for the economy and allow a lot more people to travel with a lot more ease.”

It remains unclear when and if all of that stimulus money, as well as the TSA requests, will be put to work.

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