Illinois Airport Plans Fire, Rescue Station

Once built, the station will be manned and operated by the city of Bloomington. Construction begins in 2007.

BLOOMINGTON -- On the heels of Wednesday's deadly plane crash in east Bloomington, Central Illinois Regional Airport officials announced plans to build an onsite fire and rescue station.

Once built, the station will be manned and operated by the city of Bloomington. Construction begins in 2007, though a specific timeline for completion has not been set.

"We provide the facility. The city operates it. They pay the electric bill, the phone bill and everything else," said airport Executive Director Carl Olson.

The $6.14 million project will cost the airport $293,257 and the state $30,099. The Federal Aviation Administration pays the rest, according to a five-year improvement plan approved Thursday by the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority.

Costs include the building, design, two rescue vehicles and access roads from the station to the airport.

Airport, FAA and city officials haven't decided on a specific location for the station, though Olson said it would likely sit on the southeast side of the airport,

That's not far from Bloomington's No. 3 fire station on Illinois 9 and Hershey Road.

Bloomington Fire Chief Keith Ranney would not say if station No. 3 would close or remain open, refusing to answer questions after work hours. City Manager Tom Hamilton could not be reached for comment.

The airport's five-year spending plan also includes: $1.47 million for a standby generator for the terminal, $1.57 million for two new passenger boarding ramps, $1.36 million for security enhancements, $1.9 million for a new taxiway complex, a $4.5 million beacon building, and a $2.7 million taxiway expansion. The largest expense listed is a $9 million renovation of the airport's oldest runway.

"Isn't it amazing that the numbers are still that big with all the stuff that's been done out here?" said Airport Authority Chairman Paul Harmon.

Earlier this year, the airport received the final payment of a five-year $24.3 million commitment from the FAA for other runway and taxiway repairs.

"That old runway is just in major need of material repairs," Harmon said.

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