Lakeshore News Tonight

Gary Airport Project Update

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The Gary-Chicago International Airport gave invited guests a sneak peek Thursday of the work being done to expand services and create opportunities for growth in the city…the Lakeshore’s Sarah Holst was there, as well…..

Officials in Gary participated in a panel discussion  focused on the game-changing changes underway at the Gary-Chicago International Airport.  The panel included Gary Mayor Karen Freeman–Wilson … Regional Development Authority president Bill Hanna  and interim Airport Director Steve Landry.  The panelists agreed that the most significant change will be runway expansion.  In order to complete the project … three sets of railroad tracks on top of an 18-foot-tall embankment just 150 feet from the current runway must be relocated.  Airport interim director Steve Landry explained that relocating the tracks and removing the berm will make the airport more attractive to major airlines.

Landry: The game changer is we’re getting rid of that obstacle at the end of the runway that will allow us to accommodate larger aircraft that can fly farther distances.

The panelists say other game-changers include a public–private partnership task force designed to help attract private investors to the airport, and a renewed vision for the airport and surrounding developments.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson: It became very clear to me early on that this is not something that government could do or should do alone.

RDA President Bill Hanna: We’re going to embrace partnerships, reduce ourselves to single goals that are obtainable and agreeable, we’re not gonna fight any longer about what could be done, we’re gonna talk about what will be done and how we’re gonna get there.

Hanna says successful growth at the airport will translate into growth for the city and the region.

Hanna: You will see the types of industries that might be impacted by a fully functioning airport – that constitutes about 2500 jobs. (How many?) 2500 (Repeat that) 2500 jobs! That’s a lot of jobs.

A bill which could force changes to the Gary Airport Authority … which oversees the airport… was passed by the Indiana House and now moves back to the Senate for approval.  Hanna says he believes the bill could be a positive change … which brings more state accountability to the airport.


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