A key runway at Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport will close in April as construction begins on the final phase of an airfield extension plan two decades in the making. The city first approved conceptual plans to extend the airport’s primary north/south runway in 1996, envisioning a corporate aircraft hub serving Eastern Jackson County that would lift Lee’s Summit’s economic profile. This September, the extended 5,500-foot long runway will finally open, paving the way for fresh economic development opportunity and expansion.
"This is an exciting time for Lee’s Summit with all of the economic development activity in the I-470 corridor near the airport. The runway extension will encourage additional investment as we accommodate more business and corporate aircraft," said Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads. “This project continues to solidify Lee’s Summit’s ranking as a best place to live in the metropolitan area, state, and nation.”
Approximately 50,000 takeoffs and landings occur at the Lee’s Summit Airport each year, with aircraft ranging from single engine, single seat planes to midsize corporate jets. On average, about 137 takeoffs and landings take place each day for a total of about 50,000 operations a year. After the new runway is completed, airport officials predict air traffic will increase by 30 percent.
“These flights are primarily business related, and they bring marketing, professional, technical, service and support personnel to the area. Those travelers help boost the local economy by spending money at nearby hotels, car rental agencies and restaurants,” Lee’s Summit Airport Manager John Ohrazda said. “The new runway is expected to have a significant positive impact on Lee’s Summit Airport takeoffs and landings.”
All flights will be halted for three weeks starting April 10 when work begins on the primary intersection of the airport’s two runways. Air traffic is expected to resume by May 1 when the airport’s second, shorter runway reopens. Ohrazda said city staff and planners worked hard to minimize disruptions for users and airport tenants throughout the construction process.
“While the short-term runway closures will be an inconvenience to all, the long-term benefits of the airport improvements will result in Lee’s Summit Airport being a first-class general aviation airport of which the aviation community can be proud,” Ohrazda said.
The runway improvements will be completed less than a year after Lee’s Summit purchased the former Air Charter hangar building at 2525 N.E. Douglas St., from DeJarnette Enterprises Inc. for $1.5 million. Renamed Hangar 1, the city purchased the 40,000 square foot facility to help accommodate expected demand for additional business aircraft space.
Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council President and CEO Rick McDowell said his organization will leveragethe airport runway extension project and new hangar to help attract new investment and development.
“The increase in aviation related activity creates a tremendous opportunity for enhanced business retention, expansion and attraction activity tied to the airport,” McDowell said. “The LSEDC plans to highlight the new hangar as an important community asset as we work to grow and attract businesses that rely on aviation.”
The runway improvements and hangar investment is expected to open up new development opportunities for Lee’s Summit, as well as surrounding communities in Eastern Jackson County and the entire Kansas City region, according to 2017 LSEDC Chairwoman Christine Bushyhead.
“The ability to accommodate ‘based’ corporate aircraft, as well as offer additional room for overnight, transient aircraft, helps create a strong selling point for Lee’s Summit as an important gateway to the Kansas City region,” Bushyhead said.
Emery Sapp and Sons was the low bidder for the paving project, which began with phased-in airfield closures in the fall of 2016. Crawford Murphy and Tilly, Inc. is providing engineering services.
Lee's Summit Airport will be the setting-- and development in and around the airport will be a featured topic at MetroWireMedia's "This is our KC" breakfast and panel discussion from 7:30-9 am on April 11. Register for the event here and check out our panelists here. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Email Lisa@MetroWireMedia.com for more information!