Boonville Airport Upgraded

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BOONVILLE - Jesse Viertel Memorial Airport may reach new heights after the city council accepted a bid and authorized a grant for a renovation project at Monday night's meeting.

The renovations are expected to cost around $3.7 million, using money given to the state from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The runway at the airport has been paved multiple times, most recently in 2007.  An airport official said the renovations are overdue, based on MoDOT requirements to pave runways every seven years.

City Administrator Irl Tessendorf said the state of Missouri is active in the maintenance of airports so fixing the airport to meet regulation is important.

He said the renovations are needed because of general "wear and tear" and because there are cracks in the runway that need attention.

John Taylor, the airport manager, said it would be cheaper in the long run for the city to completely demolish the runway and build a new one. This would allow repairs to the lighting and stormwater run-off at the airport as well.

If the runway is overlaid instead of demolished, it would need to be redone again in another seven years. If the runaway is destroyed and completely renovated, then it would last approximately 20 years, but it would be out of operation for about 150 days during construction.

"We're going to work closely with our pilots and let everybody know when they get a start date. What they'll do is they'll probably be in contact with other airports in the area to see if they can get their plane over there," Taylor said.

Taylor believes pilots will be happy with the changes, despite the inconvenience.

"I would say 99 percent of the people who fly out of here, they own their own airplane, and so to go through the expense of owning an airplane and coming out and flying, there has to be some passion," he said.

One pilot visiting the airport on Monday said there are not very many areas near Columbia that allow people to fly private planes so maintaining the Boonville airport is important.

The city council will likely vote on the proposal during its next meeting, July 2.

(Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include the latest information.)

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