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Airport taxiway work taking off

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Jackhammers jingle and construction trucks beep below the roar of planes landing at Columbus Municipal Airport these days. The symphony of sound makes new airport director Brian Payne smile as he realizes his first major undertaking as airport director has begun.

Courtesy of a $1.4 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, the airport has begun to repair its main taxiway, Taxiway D. By late next month, Payne hopes to have a smoother way for airplanes to get around on the ground.

“You cannot access any other portion of the airport without this taxiway,” said Payne, who replaced former airport director Rod Blasdel on Sept. 4.

Taxiway D reconstruction started Monday by Milestone Contractors, a road rehabilitation group out of Indianapolis. Its target completion date is Nov. 21.

“The pavement is near failing,” Payne said. “It’s just one of those things that we’ve got so much pavement at the airport, something’s going to need replaced.

“This is fairly common for the airport the size of Columbus and sometimes even larger.”

An annual state survey, headed by the Indiana Department of Transportation, determined Taxiway D was failing, “which is why it was pushed to the top of the priority list,” Payne said.

Repair measures are being made now to avoid future problems. Flying debris — capable of getting lodged in plane tires and engines — is the enemy, and the enemy must be defeated, officials said.

Aviation Board Commissioner Caleb Tennis said other taxiways approaching a low grade likely will be considered for rehabilitation next year.

“We have a master plan that is kind of what our five-year hope is,” Tennis said. “And then we work with INDOT and the FFA to say, ‘Hey, here’s what we need to do.’”

This year, INDOT and the FFA answered.

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