Commissioners to vote on airport project

By Burk Krohe

City commissioners will discuss an airport improvement project and a regional planning organization at Tuesday’s special city meeting and work session. It will begin at 5 p.m. at City Hall.

Plans for expansion at Manhattan Regional Airport have been in the works for several months after an analysis identifying the terminal’s needs was completed. The first step in expansion will be increasing the size of the general aviation apron.

The project includes constructing a new 100,000-square-foot concrete apron and taxiway, connecting the apron to an existing taxiway. It also includes a 33,500-square-foot service road for access to the apron, pavement markings, airfield signs, ramp flood lights and electrical equipment.

Commissioners will be asked to approve or deny the engineer’s opinion of probable cost for the project in the amount of $1.77 million. They will subsequently be asked to vote on executing a construction contract with Dondlinger and Sons Construction of Wichita in the amount of $1.66 million and a construction administration contract with Mead and Hunt, Inc., of Madison, Wis., in the amount of $203,812. Finally, they will be asked to accept a federal grant offer to be used on the project, in the the amount of $1.89 million.

After the special meeting item, commissioners will move to a work session item on the new regional planning organization.

In April, the federal government notified the city that it qualified as an urbanized areas based on data from the 2010 census. The region is required to create a metropolitan planning organization after such a designation. The organization carries out regional transportation planning that a body such as the Manhattan Urban Area Planning Board would not.

It will be required to develop several products to guide it. First, the stakeholders in the organization must decide on a map that determines its boundaries. So far, a map that includes Riley County and Pottawatomie County and a map that adds Geary County to the other two are the favorites.

Once the map is finalized, the organization will also be required to create an analysis tool used to identify weak spots in roadway networks, a plan outlining the region’s transportation goals over the next 20 years, a program to implement immediate projects and an outline of the utilization of grant funding.

Another issue that’s yet to be worked out is funding. It has become evident that state funding will not cover the initial start-up costs. The city has prepared six five-year budget options, which detail the costs and split of local funding in a variety of scenarios.

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