Taylorville runway may be wrong way
Taylorville’s new runway looks great, except for one thing. That darn water tower.
Completed two years ago, the $4 million runway at Taylorville Municipal Airport is uncomfortably close to the town’s water supply. The problem came to light this spring when the Federal Aviation Administration found that an electronic navigational aid would put pilots too close to the tower as they come in to land.
The standard landing approach puts pilots less than nine feet above the tower, which is about 3,000 from the end of the runway and nearly 500 feet east of the runway’s center line.
In fact, if a plane dips less than two-tenths of a degree below the standard approach, it would come into the airport more than two feet below the tower.
“From my position, you’ve got laugh, or you’ve got to cry,” said Mayor Frank Mathon, who blames Hanson Professional Services, a Springfield engineering firm that designed the runway, which was paid for by state, federal and city taxpayers.
“We asked Hanson, ‘How could you miss that?’” Mathon said. “They said the tower wasn’t on the drawings. We commented, ‘Didn’t you walk on the runway and see that big orange tower? It’s been there for 40 years.’”
Noting that runway plans were approved by the FAA and that the Illinois Department of Transportation also approved plans before work began, a Hanson spokeswoman said the engineering firm had done nothing wrong and that the tower doesn’t pose a hazard.
“Basically, all factors were considered, and the runway is where it should be,” she said.
Nonetheless, Hanson says the best solution is as expensive as it is obvious: Move the tower. In an April 25 letter to the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics, Hanson engineer Charles Hagloch, a partner in the firm, also suggests:
-Removing the navigational aid that puts pilots at the same altitude as the tower.
-Installing lights on the tower and painting it in an orange-and-white checkerboard pattern.
-Changing the approach path so that planes will fly higher than they do now.
In his letter, Hagloch admitted those options aren’t ideal.
“'The only real solution to alleviate the airport from all airspace issues and fully comply with all current criteria is to lower and/or relocate the water tower,” Hagloch wrote.
The state favors changing the approach path so that planes would clear the tower by nearly 70 feet. The Federal Aviation Administration would make the final call.|
“We’ll work with them on determining whether it’s acceptable,” said Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation. “It’s (the tower is) off to the side. It’s not considered a safety hazard. But it’s something that has to be addressed if you’re going to be operating this (navigational) system.”
Bruce Rushton can be reached at (217) 788-1542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.