Lake in the Hills Airport wraps up taxiway project, focuses on future safety improvements

LAKE IN THE HILLS – With a $2.3 million taxiway project wrapping up at Lake in the Hills Airport, airport manager Michael Peranich said the airport will be safer and more marketable.

“The old taxiway was too close to the runway,” Peranich said. “That’s the primary driver to this entire project.”

In the final stretch of the project, the airport is being closed for about a week. The 35-foot-wide, 3,800-foot-long taxiway is now far enough away from the runway that larger planes can take off and land at the same time without being too close, Peranich said.

Ninety percent of the airport improvement program is covered by a federal grant, Peranich said. Five percent is covered by the state of Illinois, and the last 5 percent is covered by the village. That amounts to a village share of about $108,000 for the taxiway project, he said.

The airport doesn’t use money from the village’s general fund – it funds itself primarily through rent for hangar space and fuel sales, Lake in the Hills Public Works Director Fred Mullard said.

“The airport operates strictly out of money it generates itself, we don’t use any of the tax dollars,” Mullard said.

The taxiway project is part of a larger safety improvement program for the airport, Peranich has said, and the goal is ultimately to bring it up to Federal Aviation Administration standards and eliminate a modification of standards from the FAA’s file.

The modification of standards is a document that says the FAA recognizes the airport was privately owned before being purchased by the village in the mid-1980s, Peranich said, and therefore is not up to all FAA standards.

Widening the airport’s one runway would be the next step in the project, Peranich said.

At its Nov. 10 meeting, the Lake in the Hills Board of Trustees approved spending requests for the airport for 2018 through 2023. The plan will be added to the Illinois Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics five-year spending plan for improvements to the Illinois airport system, according to village documents.

The village’s goal is to break the runway project into smaller portions so work can begin earlier. That final phase of the runway expansion is expected to cost $5 million, with about $300,000 coming from the village, Peranich said.

“Right now, nothing is planned in 2017,” Peranich said. “We are trying to lobby for sort of a preliminary runway project that would involve mostly engineering.”

There are 104 aircrafts based at the airport, Peranich said, and most are privately owned. He said he hopes more businesses will consider using it so they have a farther reach.

Pilots using the airport come from Lake in the Hills and surrounding areas including Crystal Lake, Barrington and Harvard, Mullard said.

“We’re the only public airport in McHenry County, so it really is a regional asset, and it’s a gemstone for the county as a whole to be able to take advantage of,” Mullard said.

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