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State awards $1.1 million to Morris airport for runway extension project

MORRIS – The Morris Municipal Airport will receive about $1.1 million in state money for a runway extension project.

The award was the largest of $9.4 million presented to Illinois airports in 18 counties. The grants were announced Thursday by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Morris’ airport will use the money for a runway extension project that will add another 500 feet to the existing landing strip.

“This is an important airport in an important part of the state,” Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Guy Tridgell said Thursday. “So, certainly, this is a very deserving project. It’s only going to help the airport fulfill its important role in the state and local economy.”

The runway extension is the first of many improvement projects scheduled in the next five years aimed at making the airport more compatible for corporate jets.

When completed, the runway will be 5,500 feet in length, have a new surface and include precision lights to make landings easier.

Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick said the airport has the potential to become a highly successful corporate airport, and is already experiencing heavy traffic.

“We do have tens of thousands of operations here, annually, at the airport, including jet operations,” Kopczick said.

Airport manager Jeff Vogen said Morris’ location makes it worthy of large state investments.

“We’ve been very fortunate, but our location is one of the main reasons we get funding,” Vogen said. “We are on the perimeter of all the busy airports. With growth rapidly going to the west, from Chicago, we’re in that next growth ring.”

The projects address critical infrastructure needs while creating construction jobs, according to a release form Quinn’s office.

The Illinois Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics will manage the project, but federal, state and local dollars will go toward the $1.1 million project.

Morris’ share of the cost comes to about $55,000, about $25,000 lower than the city originally anticipated, Kopczick said.

P.T. Ferro Construction of Joliet will complete the runway extension project.

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