ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Leaders with Rochester International Airport said one of its runways needs a major repair after three decades in use.
In the Med City, it makes sense to use a medical argument to secure funding for major renovations at its airport.
Rochester Mayo Kim Norton led a city delegation to the State Capitol Tuesday to support a bill authored by local lawmakers that provide $7 million dollars in funding to repair runway 02/20.
The total project will cost $52 million. Most of the funds will come from the FAA. Some of it is also from city funds.
Airport leaders said the runway is essentially useless in its current form.
The changes would add improved lighting to runways making them safer during tough weather, which is a big deal for Mayo Clinic’s air ambulance program.
“The runway is approaching 30 years old, it has reached the end of its useful life. You can see actual chunks of the runway here that were on my desk,” said Rochester International Airport Director John Reed.
“When weather limits delivery or requires diversion of an aircraft to another airport, the quality of the specimens is threatened because the biological material must be maintained within strict parameters,” Mayo Clinic Air Ambulance Director Paul Drucker said.
Mayo said 750 patients arrive by air ambulance each year to reach the clinic.
The Mayor was quick to point out that RST had the second largest number of commercial passengers in the state in 2018.