The Marion Municipal Airport is back to business as usual after completing a runway-extension project.
The airport, at 1690 Marion Airport Rd., officially reopened its runway this past Friday, but a grand opening event is scheduled for noon this Friday.
The runway was expanded from 23 feet wide to 60-feet. The project also included additional grading, drain tile, runway lighting and some other safety improvements, City Engineer Mike Barkalow said.
“With the wider runway, we’re making it safer,” Barkalow said. “It’s also another gateway into town. We’re not a river town, we have Highways 13 and 100, but we don’t have (Interstate) 380. The hope is this is another way to drive business.”
The project cost $1.8 million, with $424,000 of that funded by an Iowa Department of Transportation grant as well as other grants for the runway design and zoning. The rest of the cost was covered by city bonds.
The previously privately owned airport is now managed by LuxAir Aviation, but the city of Marion owns the runway in a public-private partnership and has since 2015. That provided the opportunity to receive funding from the DOT, Barkalow said.
“The company maintains the lights, mows the grass and manages the airport, but by the city of Marion owning the runway, we can apply for DOT grants,” Barkalow said.
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Barkalow said that there are no other project plans for the airport in the near future, but there will be a meeting soon to discuss any next steps. There is potential to extend the runway north as well, but that would run across Airport Road, requiring it to close, he noted.
“It’s been closed for quite a while, so we want them to get their feet back under them,” he said.
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