By David Slone
WARSAW — The runway 927 obstruction mitigation project at the Warsaw Municipal Airport — commonly referred to as the power line lowering project — is finally moving forward after more than 35 years.
In his report Tuesday to the Board of Aviation Commissioners, CHA Deputy Project Manager in Airport Planning Robert LaFayette said Airport Manager Nick King had a copy of the obstruction agreement with AEP on the project. AEP sent minor changes and the city’s legal counsel approved those minor changes.
“As I mentioned in the last board meeting in November, the executed agreement cleared a path for the material procurement and bids, so AEP is ready to get those things purchased and procured. The design is ongoing, and the schedule is still on track for November of 2023,” LaFayette said.
Technically, he said, there was an action needed Tuesday but it was already approved in November. That was a motion for Board President Jay Rigdon to sign the final AEP construction agreement pending city legal counsel approval. With legal counsel’s OK, King had the agreement for Rigdon to sign Tuesday.
King said they received the agreement Monday afternoon, but felt it would be appropriate for Rigdon to sign it at Tuesday’s Board meeting.
“Finally,” King said, “we are moving forward with the power line project after all of these years.”
Discussions and planning for the project date back to at least May 3, 1986. That’s the earliest record King could find regarding the project.
“So, hopefully in February at the board meeting, we’ll have an update on some procurement of materials through AEP,” LaFayette said.
He said there was another meeting scheduled with AEP halfway through January, so he will be able to provide the Board with an update at its Feb. 14 meeting.
“The 927 Safety Area Project — that is the project that is currently ongoing — we’re about halfway through the runway safety area determination portion of the project scope,” LaFayette said.
There’s basically two main phases. One is the runway safety area determination, and the other is the runway programming effort.
“So, we’re about halfway through the safety area determination effort, which puts us about 25% total project completion. So the month of November and December were pretty busy for us on this project. (We) completed the runway safety area inventory, the length analysis, the threshold sighting analysis. We are beginning some airfield alternatives, and pending the runway safety area determination approval, the next steps are programming the runway project in conjunction with the environmental assessment project that is upcoming,” LaFayette stated.
He told the board there were two invoices from CHA he requested they approve, which are the first two invoices on the runway project. The first invoice was for professional services for September through Dec. 2 for $33,419.90. The second invoice was for December for $24,800.
King reminded the board that the invoices were the total invoices and that the Airport only paid 5% of those. Federal and state funds are paying for 95% of the project. LaFayette said the local responsibility for the first invoice was $1,671; and for the second invoice was $1,240.
The board unanimously approved the invoices.
LaFayette then gave the board an update on the Federal Aviation Administration in regards to the 927 safety area program definition project.
“We’ve been coordinating over the last few weeks on the FAA. There is a checkbox that, unfortunately, the FFA was unable to check in previous projects, and that is resulting in some potential changes for the … well, we don’t know how it’s going to be programmed yet. Essentially, the forecast from the ALP and the narrative from 2019, there was never any approval from the FAA or a letter designating acceptance from the FAA in regards to that forecast,” LaFayette explained. “How that impacts us is, in order for the FAA to move forward on a project of this magnitude, they have to have this box checked. So how that impacts this project, what we’re trying to do is put together a plan so that impact is negligible. We’d like to do the forecast in an expediated capacity, concurrent with the current RSDA project.”
He said there’s upcoming discussions with the FAA to figure out what the path forward on the matter is, but preliminary discussions with the FAA has been that the FAA will pay for it.
“Unfortunately, it’s just another hurdle in a long line of hurdles as we run around this racetrack with the FAA. It’s something that we’re going to have to do, unfortunately, but based upon our conversations with the FAA, not at the expense of the airport or the board,” LaFayette said.
By doing the forecasting concurrently with the RSDA, he said there shouldn’t be a delay with the project funding, project deliverables or the timeline as it relates to the runway program.
LaFayette said within the next week, the FAA will schedule another meeting with CHA, FAA and the Indiana Department of Transportation. The Board will be updated at its Feb. 14 meeting.
In other business:
• Board members Dan Robinson and John Yingling were given the oath of office by Mayor Joe Thallemer to serve another four-year term.
• Officers were voted to remain the same for 2023 as they were in 2022. Rigdon will continue as president, Yingling as vice president and Gene Zale as secretary.