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La Crosse airport considers shutting one runway as part of long-range master plan

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The La Crosse Regional Airport is looking 15 years into the future.

City committees have been studying a master plan for the airport, which predicts changes that could come about by the year 2037.  One change being considered is the shutdown of the shortest of the three main runways, which runs roughly east and west. 

Airport director Ian Turner says dropping that runway could be a way of saving money.

“It’s not justified under the FAA’s criteria,” Turner says, “so while they say that you don’t have to close it, it would become a 100 per cent city expense on our own,” meaning the small runway would not be eligible for federal funding.

Most of the flights at the airport on French Island land and take off in a general north-south path on the two longer runways.     

Like many airports around the U.S., LSE is getting back to more normal customer levels after the depths of the pandemic. 

Late last year, the number of monthly passengers through La Crosse was starting to reach pre-COVID numbers. 

The master plan for the airport was completed shortly before the outbreak of COVID, and predicted that ridership might go up 1 per cent a year. 

Turner says that prediction really doesn’t apply any more.

The monthly passenger totals, usually in the 6000-to-8000 person range, dropped sharply to just over 300 people in April of 2020, in the first weeks of the pandemic. The most recent total, for February, was 6027 passengers on scheduled flights.  

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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