SIKESTON - Over the next week, the Sikeston Memorial Airport will see an increase in air traffic while temporarily serving as a hub for the area.
Cape Girardeau Regional Airport "has been shut down for traffic for 10 days from Oct. 31 until Nov. 10," said Kristi Thurman, project assistant. "They're doing some reconstruction of the intersection of the runway."
"We're going to pick up some of their traffic, some of their corporate planes and such, while they're getting their runway in shape," confirmed Perry Joliff of Joliff Aviation at the Sikeston Memorial Airport.
As of Wednesday, there were five additional aircraft on the Sikeston Memorial Airport runway which will be based here "until the construction is done," Joliff said, "and we have numerous aircraft flying in and out."
The increase in traffic will have some benefit for Sikeston, according to Joliff: "It does help the city and help the community because of the taxes from the extra fuel sales it will bring in."
In addition to using Sikeston's airport as a hub, the Cape airport will also have shuttles running back and forth to St. Louis two times per day during the 10-day construction period.
The construction at Cape's airport is "a $3.5 million project that's being funded by a combination of U.S. Department of Transportation grant money, previously obtained entitlement grant funds from the state, and a $172,000 local match," said Thurman. "The purpose of the project is to improve the intersection of two runways so they will drain better, rework some ground in one runway safety area and reroute Taxiway A to run parallel with runway 10-28."
Thurman said the project was split into three phases. The first phase includes removing the old Taxiway A and building a haul road for construction. Phase Two is the construction of the new Taxiway A to realign it.
The third phase, which is "the critical phase," according to Thurman, is the reconstruction and regrading of the runway intersection.
Emery Sapp of Columbia received the contract for the project.
"They're just moving right along," said Thurman. "They are doing a fantastic job and are still on schedule despite all the weather. They were prepared for it - they knew the rain was coming."
She said Emery Sapp had advised the project's subcontractors in a preconstruction meeting that they would be working in wet conditions.
Runway reconstruction is "something we need to do down here," Joliff said.
Many Sikeston residents are "not aware of what the airport does for them" such as bringing in and keeping jobs here, he said, as an airport that can handle corporate jets is considered a prerequisite for many companies.
"There must be an airport close by that they can access," Joliff said. "It's good for the community."