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clock Jan 16, 2006 5:07 pm US/Central

Gary Airport Gets Millions In Federal Funding

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Pamela Jones
Reporting

(CBS) GARY, Ind. Gary Chicago Airport officials Monday announced approval of $48 million in federal funding.

As CBS 2 Northwest Indiana Bureau Chief Pamela Jones reports, the money paves the way for necessary improvements.

It's a sum of money area officials have kept quiet for weeks, awaiting the feds to sign off on it.

Now, airport supporters say the facility is in a much better position to take its place as the area's third airport.

"This area of the state is going to be the next great economic engine of the state of Indiana,� said Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.)

Visclosky joined Gary�s mayor and a host of other dignitaries and visitors Monday, congratulating the Gary Chicago Airport for receiving millions of dollars in new funding from the federal government.

"The results of it, I hope, are exciting for what this means for this airport and how much more competitive this airport is going to be as of today," said Gary Mayor Scott King.

The funds will help airport development projects move forward, including plans to lengthen the runway and move railroad tracks that currently land lock the facility.

On Friday, federal officials approved $47.8 million over the next 10 years. Add another 10 million in already allocated federal entitlement funds plus other funding, and the airport is about $13 million shy of what it needs to complete improvements here.

�This is going to be the next great Chicago airport, and it is going to be a tremendous asset to northwest Indiana and our neighbors in Illinois,� Gov. Mitch Daniels said.

Some of those neighbors could provide some competition for airline business, especially with the O'hare expansion project, and plans for a new airport at Peotone.

"The last time I looked there was only corn over there between Peotone and Monee. There may or may not be a fourth airport for Chicago, but right now there is a third airport. And that's this airport,� said Gary Chicago Airport administrator Paul Karas.

The cost of the improvement plan is more than $85 million. The project will bring 320 jobs to the city of Gary.

(CBS 2 and the Post-Tribune are news partners covering stories in the communities of northwest Indiana. If you know of stories happening in this region, contact us.

(� MMVI, CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Post-Tribune contributed to this report.)

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