General Aviation Facility Construction

The Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority, owner and operator of the Central Illinois Regional Airport (CIRA) began a major construction project on airport property to construct a new general aviation area for aircraft storage of small, privately-owned aircraft.

 

Project Overview

Aerial View of GA Project Location and Layout

This project will relocate the current general aviation aircraft storage area to a new location on existing Airport Authority property within the current perimeter fence.  The project will involve the construction of a new apron, taxiway, and small aircraft hangars. This work became necessary because the pavement at the current 1970s facility no longer meets FAA specifications and the hangars can no longer be safely maintained.

This project originated from the Airport Authority’s 2009 Airport Master Plan study which identified four sites capable of hosting such a facility after which the FAA directed the Airport Authority to complete a benefit-cost analysis to determine which site was best suited for this facility and presented the most cost-efficient alternative based on FAA design requirements. Based on the analysis and in conjunction with the Airport Authority Properties and Facilities Committee’s recommendation, it was determined the site of the former Runway 3/21, located on the south side of Runway 11/29, offered the safest, most convenient, and most cost-effective location for this replacement aircraft storage facility.

Private vehicles will access the new general aviation facility through the airport’s existing gate on Waterford Estates Drive and will include a small, paved aircraft apron, paved taxi lanes, and taxiways connecting to Runway 11/29.  The facility will also include the construction of 3 rows of aircraft T-hangar buildings capable of individually storing up to 58 small, single-engine aircraft.  For safety reasons, to prevent aircraft fuel trucks from crossing the runways/taxiways, a small self-fueling unit will be provided for the aircraft owners at this site.

 

 

Construction Schedule and Updates

The construction component of this project will consist of two phases:

Phase I (Completed October 2023) included demolition of the former Runway 3/21 and accompanying taxiways, site grading, installation of underground utilities, and construction of drainage/storm water management facilities. This phase successfully, and safely, underwent a 70-day closure of Runway 11-29 to accommodate work adjacent to runway edge of pavement. Phase I concluded with covering all the dirt from the earthwork with topsoil placement, seeding and mulching.

Phase II (Proposed late May 2024) will be the final construction phase of this project, and will include the paving work, final utility installations, and construction of the hangar facilities.  This phase is expected to begin in late May of 2024 with significant construction completed by the end of the calendar year but will have carry over into 2025.

Occupancy (Proposed 2025) Based upon the proposed construction schedule the Airport Authority anticipates aircraft to begin transitioning to the new facility by mid-2025.

 

     

 

Project Components to Mitigate Neighbor Concerns

To reduce the impacts of this project on the neighboring residents and for environmental improvements, the Airport Authority incorporated several additional project components to be a responsible, respectful neighbor.

  • Construction Road – The first of these measures included creating a new mile-long construction/haul road to prevent construction traffic from operating on residential streets (completed in Phase I).  This road was built from materials generated by the demolition of the former runway/taxiway surfaces and extends from the East Oakland/Streid Drive area inside the fence to the project site for the duration of construction work.
  • Proximity to Homes – To further mitigate any possible impact on neighboring residences the Airport Authority purposefully located the facility as close to the existing airfield pavement surfaces as possible.  Thereby keeping the closest hangar structure more than 700 feet from the nearest residence (or more than one city block).
  • Stormwater Improvements – The project also provided the Authority an opportunity to enlarge and improve stormwater management facilities in this area of the airport.  While the Authority currently meets City of Bloomington requirements for stormwater management, the combination of added pavement surfaces and the increasing number of significant rain events, led the Authority to expand and update the airport’s stormwater management capabilities to better support neighboring residences.
  • Landscaping/Natural Barriers – The project will incorporate a significant amount of public facing plant material and landscaping to enhance the visual appearance and compliment the adjoining neighborhood.  Taking advantage of the change in elevation and distance from the residences, the Authority plans to plant vegetation at locations inside the fence to help filter the view of the facility. Additionally, the vehicle access gate will be recessed more than 1,000 feet north of Castlemain Drive to prevent vehicles from stopping near the roadway/sidewalk with this street facing area being fully landscaped to better blend with the neighborhood environment.
  • Lights – The Authority avoided installing high-intensity overhead lighting units in favor of smaller box lights installed on the hangar structures.  The only exception for this will be a couple low-intensity streetlights along the vehicle access road inside the perimeter fence.

Concerns or Comments?

Please reach out to us by email at GAproject@cira.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

GA or General Aviation in this case is a term that is used to identify small, privately owned aircraft used primarily for recreational flying. These would be predominantly single engine aircraft that seat 2-6 people.

While it is hard to define the level of noise that will interfere with neighbors, it is important to note the aircraft operating from this facility will be small, single-engine aircraft (no jet aircraft) with just two or four cylinders which are typically quieter than a residential lawn mower – especially from a distance of more than a city block.

While aircraft owners will be permitted to work on their own airplanes, large scale and ongoing commercial maintenance will not be permitted on this site.

No, the runways will remain as they are located now. In air activity will not move closer to any residence than they are currently allowed.

The only street which will incur hangar-related traffic is Waterford Estates Drive. On an average day there should be less than a dozen vehicle movements through the gate to access the new hangars. Given certain flying conditions, there will be days when there is no traffic. Additionally, airport vehicles will access this facility from inside the airport perimeter fence, not the residential street.

These will be T-hangar facilities where the aircraft is stored when not in use. Pilots will come into the facility to access their planes, pull them out of the hangar, taxi to the runway and fly their aircraft. They may spend time in their hangars doing light maintenance on their aircraft. There will be no jets or commercial activity in this area.

This location was selected using existing Airport Authority-owned property to avoid acquiring additional property or extending the existing airport perimeter fence and was formally approved by the FAA.  The focus for selecting this site was on aircraft operational safety, standardized FAA airport design requirements, constructability, and overall project costs.

No, users of the facility will come and go through a controlled gate at Waterford Estates and Castlemain and will not be permitted to access property beyond the airport property.

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  • 3201 CIRA Drive, Bloomington, IL, 61704
  • +1 (309) 663-7383
  • Airport Code: BMI

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