Dec. 20--Projects to provide the main runway at Toledo Executive Airport with a full-length taxiway and to resurface a busy taxiway at Toledo Express Airport soon will be under design by a Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority consultant.
Port President Paul Toth, meanwhile, reported to the agency's board of directors that the port authority and the Greater Toledo Convention and Visitors' Bureau have jointly joined a trade group promoting cruise ships on the Great Lakes, five years after the port dropped its individual membership.
Mr. Toth said splitting the $3,650 annual membership fee for the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition was appropriate because setting up local itineraries for visiting cruise-ship passengers logically would be a convention-bureau function, not something the port authority would do.
"It's a great fit for the CVB," Mr. Toth said, noting that European tourists are a prime market for Great Lakes cruising, and right now there is great interest in that market for War of 1812 historical sites such as Fort Meigs.
The planned construction at Toledo Executive will extend Taxiway A, which parallels only the southern half of Runway 14-32, all the way to that runway's north end.
Planes approaching from the south -- the Runway 32 direction -- now must turn around after landing and taxi on the runway to reach the airport's terminal and hangars. That potentially puts them in the path of other landing aircraft.
"It's an uncontrolled airport, and pilots know to speak to each other, but it's still a safety hazard," Mr. Toth said.
The port board approved a work order not to exceed $36,700 to RS&H Ohio Inc., the port authority's general consultant for airports, to complete design work for the taxiway extension and prepare construction bidding documents.
The taxiway was requested by the Federal Aviation Administration and has been on the port authority's master plan for 10 years, Mr. Toth said. FAA funds are expected to cover 90 percent of both the design and construction costs, with construction likely to take about three months once funding is appropriated, he said.
Resurfacing Taxiways B, A, and B1, which together parallel the north side of Toledo Express' main runway, also is to be designed by RS&H Ohio for a cost not to exceed $408,000, with FAA funds expected to cover 90 percent.
The taxiway route was built in 1991, and pavement analysis shows a need for resurfacing, Mr. Toth said.
Neither airport is expected to be disrupted by the work. Construction cost estimates were not presented.
After contributing $40,000 to $50,000 over the previous decade, the port authority let its Great Lakes Cruising Coalition membership lapse in 2008 as part of broader budget cuts, Mr. Toth recounted.
"In 2008, the economy was in the pits, and there weren't any cruise ships in the Great Lakes, so we made a conscious decision to withdraw," he said.
But earlier this year, the cruising coalition reported that as many as five vessel operators were working on Great Lakes itineraries, and at that time, Toledo was missing out on potential ship calls because of the port authority's focus on cargo traffic.
No action by port authority directors was required to approve the port's roughly $1,850 expense to rejoin the coalition.
In other business, the port authority board approved a resolution authorizing up to $40 million in taxable revenue bonds to finance construction of a 260,000-square-foot, 198-unit student housing project next to the University of Toledo.
The bonds will be strictly a financial "conduit," with the port authority having no default obligation to a commercial bank chosen by developer NRP Group LLC of Cleveland to buy the bonds. Mr. Toth said the project is one of several private dormitory projects under development near UT.
The board also appropriated a $20,000 contribution toward a joint-agency fund to stabilize the landmark Spitzer Building in downtown Toledo, which is embroiled in foreclosure proceedings and closed to tenants early this month.
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