Airport Finally Receives Grant For Lowering Of Power Lines

Nearly two years after it was announced the Warsaw Municipal Airport was awarded an approximate $7 million grant for the lowering of electrical power lines to the east of the east/west runway, that grant is finally in hand.

During the Warsaw Board of Aviation Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Mary Kerstein, project manager for CHA Consulting Inc., the airport’s contracted engineering firm, said, “The big news for the night is we have finally received the grant for the power line lowering. So I know it’s been a long time coming, so (Board President) Jay (Rigdon), thank you for signing that, and we now are working with AEP (American Electric Power) to set up a meeting on an agreement for the contract.”

“Not that you need to be told, but this is a big deal,” Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer told the Board.

Kerstein said getting the grant from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) was the first step in getting the power lines lowered.

“Thank you all for all of your hard work. I know it has been a long time coming,” she said.

Rigdon thanked her “for bringing us to this point. We have been looking to get past that hurdle for quite some time now. And I know it’s the hard work of CHA.”

The lowering of the power lines has taken over 40 years, according to Airport Manager Nick King after the meeting. He said he is the third airport manager to work on seeing it get done. It is Phase I of a two-phase project, with phase II to be the actual physical extension of the runway.

Toward the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Thallemer said he was “glad to be sitting here with the big announcement that the funds are in the bank from the feds.”

He asked Kerstein about a possible timeline for the project to get started.

She said the first step was scheduling a meeting with AEP to work on the agreement. AEP has designed the power lines “60%, is what they told us in the past,” she said. AEP needs to finish their design, which Kerstein estimated could be early to mid fall, “depending on how long it takes them to finish the design and what the weather is, they could start this fall. It’s really just going to be dependent on how long the design will take them.”

Kerstein said she thinks the majority of the construction will happen in 2022.

Gene Zale, Board member, asked if they were just taking out three towers or if there was going to be a fourth.

“So they are taking out, if I remember correctly, it’s been a while since I looked at it, they’re replacing two towers in the same location, but they’re adding three. I think it’s five total,” Kerstein said.

She said the towers will be lower than the ones currently out there and will be a different style. The new style is called Bold Towers and can be seen along the I-69 corridor.

“It’s a different style that they are now doing that can be lower to the ground, and that’s really what this project is doing, is lowering them so we can have aircraft fly in at those lower altitudes,” Kerstein said, adding that they’re more modern looking.

King, displaying a map to the Board, said, “So directly off the end of the runway, this is EMS C24 Lane, east of the airport, just east of (CR) 175, this is one of the towers right here. It’s currently sitting right at 150 feet. Those lines can not be lowered than 50 feet – the sag of those lines. So, if you come off the runway in our approach path, those are going to be lowered. But because the lines travel away from the airport, here to the southeast, those don’t have to be at 50 feet because they’re outside of the approach path. So the further away it is from the airport, we can spread those towers out and take them up a little bit higher and slowly transition back up to the 150-foot mark. We could have made them exactly 50 feet, but we would have had a tower every 40 or 50 feet to support that sag. Because we are spreading them out that way, that is how we were able to avoid putting in 10 or 12 towers. So, it’s because it wasn’t just a straight line, it curved away from the airport.”

The next Board of Aviation Commissioners is 5:15 p.m. Aug. 10 in the Common Council Chambers of City Hall.