Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Board OKs funding for runways


By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HEBRON — The Kenton County Airport Board on Monday began securing financing for its planned new runway projects, while authorizing nearly $2.7 million to allow work to start almost immediately.

        The board unanimously granted approval for officials of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to begin applying for a $150 million bond issue to help pay for the runways.

        The airport plans to build an 8,000-foot north-south runway on its western side. Airport officials have also received environmental clearance to build a 2,000-foot extension to the western end of the 10,000-foot east-west runway, but have been given clearance to apply for federal funding for only 1,000 feet.

        Airport director of aviation Bob Holscher said that tenants DHL Airways, which operates its lone North American hub locally, and Delta Air Lines, which operates its second-largest hub here, were trying to lobby the FAA to reverse its decision and approve funding for the full 2,000 feet.

        The project is estimated to cost $230 million and is scheduled to be done by early 2005.

        John Domaschko, chairman of the airport board's finance committee, said the final figure for a bond issue has yet to be determined, as the federal government has yet to decide how much it will pay toward the project.

        “The $150 million is kind of an arbitrary number just to hold the place,” Mr. Domaschko said.

        The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to decide by this spring how much it will pay toward the project.

        Airport officials are planning to use passenger-facility charges (extra fees on each ticket) and bond issues to pay for whatever federal funds don't cover.

        The board also approved four contracts to start actual construction.

        These included $1.5 million as the first installment of what is expected to be a $6 million deal to move an existing pipeline.

        The board also approved a contract worth more than $1 million to begin demolition of at least 220 homes and buildings in the way of the project. The airport has bought 70 percent of the 120 buildings to go in the first phase, and has begun condemnation proceedings on another 20 properties.


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