With two other regional airports serving Franklin County, members of the county’s transportation commission are considering endorsing the city of St. Clair’s push to close the airport there.
Transportation committee member Leroy Strubberg said the committee would hear from the city of St. Clair at its next meeting, scheduled for January, but by then it could be a dead issue.
The city has been pushing to close the airport for several years.
Strubberg noted there is opposition to the closure.
Committee members heard from Ray Frankenberg II, owner of Washington Aviation Inc., the company which manages the Washington Regional Airport.
Frankenberg said the Washington airport is in the process of adding 14 additional hangers and has plans for even more growth, including a new terminal and corporate hangers.
“We’re set up for the growth of many, many industries bringing white collar and blue collar jobs to our area. It is truly our region’s airport,” Frankenberg said.
He said Washington airport officials are hoping that if the St. Clair airport closes, federal funding is redistributed to the closest airports — Washington and Sullivan.
“Federal aviation (officials) don’t want to see airports close,” Frankenberg said. “That being said, if St. Clair wants its airport closed, we’ll be there to serve the area.”
He said closing the airport would be a long shot.
St. Clair City Administrator Rick Childers said closing the airport is a long, burdensome process by design.
If the process was simple, Childers said, airports could be closed practically at will.
“If I worked for the (Federal Aviation Administration), I’d make a process just like this one,” he said.
MoDOT Area Engineer Judy Wagner said the ongoing airport closure process has caused a “large delay” in the state’s project on Route 47 at Interstate 44.
“It is taking a bit longer, but it is getting done,” Wagner said.