Airline expresses interest in Gary airport

September 28, 2011

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A Las Vegas-based airline is expressing interest in flying out of the Gary Chicago International Airport in Gary, Indiana.

But a spokeswoman for Allegiant Air says before any flights can take off, much more work needs to happen.

“There’s an obstruction on the runway,” Kristine Shattuck-Cooper told WBEZ on Tuesday.

The obstruction is a large train bridge that runs north to south on the west side of the airport. A $160 million project is underway to remove that bridge and reroute several tracks around the airport.

Progress has been slow and that’s not a good thing. The airport has until the end of 2013 to get the project completed, which includes extending the airport’s main runway, or funding from the Federal Aviation Administration could be pulled.

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay says once work is completed he believes commercial airlines will be lining up to  fly out of Gary. The airport hasn’t had a commercial carrier since early 2008.

“Get that railroad track down, expand that runway and it’ll be like opening up Niagara Falls and all these airlines will be coming in here,” Clay said.

The City of Chicago is a partner with Gary in the airport. Chicago provides up to $3 million a year in baggage handling fees to assist Gary with expansion projects.

City of Chicago’s Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino told WBEZ in July that the city is committed to the Gary airport.