City approves airport apron contract

By Burk Krohe

City commissioners unanimously approved a construction contract for a general aviation apron at Manhattan Regional Airport Tuesday. They also unanimously accepted a federal grant to help fund the project.

The project will be the first step in expansion at the airport. A recent study, and subsequent terminal area master plan, showed its facilities cannot handle current passenger demand. The demand can be linked to American Eagle’s successful regional jet service to Dallas and Chicago.

However, sometimes success comes at a price. Peter Van Kuren said the airport will soon be looking at conflicts between American Eagle’s commercial air service and Kansas Air Center’s charter air services and fuel and maintenance services.

The plan is to move Kansas Air Center’s operations from its current location adjacent to the passenger terminal to the east side of the airport.

The new 100,000 square foot concrete apron and taxiway will allow for parking and maintenance of planes and the avoidance of conflicts with American Eagle. The project also includes a 33,500 square foot service road for access to the apron, pavement markings, airfield sings, ramp flood lights and electrical equipment.

Van Kuren said the total cost of the project is just over $2 million, including design costs. The construction contract with Dondlinger and Sons Construction, of Wichita, is for $1.66 million. An additional construction administration contract with Mead and Hunt, Inc., of Madison, Wisc., is for $203,812.

A federal grant, worth $1.89 million, will cover the majority of the project. The city is responsible for a 10 percent local match, or $210,082. However, $199,989 of the local match was already applied to the project in the form of an upfront design costs. Therefore, the city will be responsible for $10,102. That money will come from reserve funds left over from previous airport projects.

Commissioner Wynn Butler said he was concerned about the “domino effect” that his vote in favor of this project might have on future airport projects, including a proposed new terminal. Butler said he liked this project because of the funding mechanism, but that doesn’t mean he’s “sold” on other proposals now under consideration.

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