S.D. commission reviews proposal for a new runway that would allow jets at Chamberlain

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — You couldn’t miss the pride in the voice of city engineer Greg Powell as he presented the plan Thursday for a new runway at the Chamberlain airport long enough for business-type jets to use.

Powell told the South Dakota Aeronautics Commission he’s tried for 15 years to get the airport expanded. The community of 2,387 is a famous destination for pheasant hunters throughout the nation. The airport is also a frequent stop for healthcare flights year-round.

“We’re probably four to five years out, but we’ve got a project,” Powell said.

The current 4,299-feet paved runway can handle aircraft such as the King Air 200. But it’s short of the 5,500 feet the Federal Aviation Administration wants for business-type jets.

The FAA has approved the master plan for a new paved runway that would be south of the current one, according to Kaci Nowicki, an airport planner for Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc.

The civil engineering firm, commonly known as SEH, is based in St. Paul, Minnesota, with offices throughout states in the Great Plains and Upper Midwest.

Nowicki said the airport layout plan would be presented to the FAA in the next few weeks. The current paved runway is near the end of its usefulness and would be converted to a taxiway. “It’s in poor condition,” she said.

The presentation included a chart that showed larger numbers of aircraft use the Mitchell and Winner airports during the prime fall months of pheasant hunting. The next step is an environmental assessment in 2020, according to Nowicki.

She said a small new terminal is also part of the plan and the turf runway wouldn’t be affected.

Powell told the commission he grew up at Chamberlain and farms south of the community. He said he knows most of the landowners that would be approached for property for the larger footprint and knows local land values.

“We’re just excited we’re finally moving forward with an airport project,” Powell said.

At this point the total price tag is estimated at $9,120,000. The FAA would pay 90 percent of the cost — $8,208,000 — while the city and the state commission would split the remaining 10 percent at $456,000 apiece.

In September the commission eliminated funding for future airport projects that produce revenue, such as hangars, because of declining money.

Commission chairman Eric Odenbach of Eureka suggested to Powell that Brule County might also be asked to contribute. “It will be a nice addition to Chamberlain, I’m sure,” Odenbach said.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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