The Herald Bulletin

March 29, 2013

Closing Anderson Airport not part of reservoir plan

FAA review would be part of permitting process

The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Two immovable objects bracket Anderson Municipal Airport: White River on one side, and CSX railroad tracks on the other.

Between the river and tracks lies the airport’s main runway, 12/30, a 5,400-foot stretch of grooved asphalt that can accommodate the largest corporate jets, according to John Coon, airport manager.

Closing the airport is not part of plans to build the proposed 2,100-acre Mounds Lake Reservoir, which would begin just east of East Lynn and 18th streets in Anderson and back water up seven miles into Delaware County to around County Road 300 South and South High Banks Road.

The reservoir would follow the White River Valley’s twists and turns, and that presents a challenge exactly where its route curves around the airport.

Pilots at the airport have joked about being able to operate seaplanes if the reservoir become reality, Coon said.

But it’s no laughing matter.

Federal Aviation Administration regulations require a 1,000-foot “safety zone” at the end of each runway.

“Right now that safety zone extends right out to the fence line at White River, said Coon.

Authorities could theoretically shorten the runway to make room for the reservoir, but he’s skeptical.

“I don’t think the community would want that,” Coon said. “Any runway length we lose could have an impact on the large corporate jets that come in and go out of here regularly.”

And he doesn’t think the runway could be lengthened on the opposite end because of the CSX tracks.

For Rob Sparks, executive director of the Anderson/Madison County Corporation for Economic Development, that’s just one more issue amid thousands that will require attention as debate over the reservoir moves forward.

“We anticipated ‘building up,’ or elevating the ground around the airport, but know discussion with FAA would be required as part of permitting,” Sparks said. “As I understand, a reduction in the 1,000-foot (safety zone) essentially would reduce runway length limiting the size of planes able to land or take-off.”

Sparks said he’s not sure what the daily impact would be of such a reduction.

Another issue raised by the Board of Aviation Commissioners and Coon is the impact the proposed reservoir might have on farmland the airport currently leases. Revenue from the farmland supplements the airport’s budget.

It was not immediately clear on Friday how the potential loss of that land to a reservoir would affect the airport’s budget.

Another issue that could have an impact on airport operations is a bridge on Indiana 32 that spans the White River. That bridge crosses the fight path of runway 12/30.

Any changes in the height of a new bridge built to for a new reservoir would have to be approved by the FAA, Coon said.

Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.