Some much-needed electrical work at the aging Pekin Municipal Airport got a kickstart after the Pekin City Council approved funds for engineering plans Monday.
The initial plans for replacing the taxiway lighting and an associated electrical regulator passed in a 6-1 vote and are to be conducted by Hanson Engineering and the Illinois Department of Transportation. They are not to exceed $76,348. However, the city will only have to pay 5 percent of those costs, which will amount to about $3,800 due to federal and state funding assistance.
This will be the beginning of a large-scale improvement project that will cost about $330,000 that has already been cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Illinois Department of Aeronautics, City Engineer Mike Guerra said.
Pekin’s share of the overall project will be about $16,500 — 5 percent of the cost — with state and federal assistance.
According to federal standards, the lifespan of the lighting and regulator on the taxiway system is 20 years. Airport Manager Clayton Stambaugh said some components date back 40 years. The lights on the taxiway will be replaced with LEDs to reduce maintenance costs and make the system more efficient to operate.
For fiscal year 2015, maintenance and emergency repair costs on the airfield electrical system were between $5,000 and $10,000.
“We’re utilizing the federal funding to take a large operational expense basically off the books,” Stambaugh said. “The LED lighting is far more efficient to run in terms of energy consumption, but it’s also far more efficient in terms of maintenance.”
To fix and repair the existing system, Stambaugh said, would cost between $10, 000 and $15,000. To replace the taxiway system with LEDs would be about $16,000.
“I feel that the project is very justified just on those grounds,” he said.
Councilman Rusty Dunn asked who would take note of the airport not being up to code and having an aging system.
“I assume that matters to someone, somewhere — not just us — and they watch and they keep track of that,” Dunn said.
Stambaugh said that if a pilot does find an issue with the facility, he and airport staff would receive a Notice to Airmen — a digital text to notify staff if anything is wrong.
Councilman Mark Luft praised the deal, namely the only 5 percent of overall costs the city will pay.
“Believe it or not, it does belong to the city ... we need to keep pride in it,” Luft said. “... I see absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t jump on $300,000 worth of work for $16,000.”
Future plans for replacing the rest of the electrical system at the airport could be ready for the next fiscal year, Stambaugh said, with the city only paying 5 percent of the costs.