A consultant working for Chicago Executive Airport told a meeting last week that closing the busy facility’s crosswind runway will improve safety. Craig Louden, a project manager with infrastructure consultant Crawford, Murphy and Tilly Inc., told a room full of pilots at a meeting of the airport’s board of directors last week that closing Runway 24/6 would reduce incursion risk at an awkward intersection of the airport’s three runways. He was responding to protests from some Windy City pilots who say closing the only east-west runway will limit options when the wind howls out of the southwest. “I just want to make sure it’s put on the record that taking out this runway is not the safe thing to do,” pilot Rhett Dennerline said at the meeting, according to the Daily Herald. ”This actually may be relevant in the future. There may be an accident.”
But after the pilots talked safety, Board Chair D. Court Harris got to the heart of the matter. The runway is going to need major work in the next five years and as the airport’s “third runway” it doesn’t qualify for FAA and state grants to cover the million-dollar cost. He said the 3,677-foot runway sees only 2 percent of the traffic at KPWK. “Money spent on third runways that is not reimbursable (by the FAA or state) is money that cannot be spent on safety measures for the other 98% of operations for the facilities and the resources for them,” Harris said. The airport is a main reliever for O’Hare and gets about 80,000 movements a year, including a lot of business traffic.