The Hillsdale Municipal Airport began con­struction on the second phase of its taxiway expansion in August, with work expected to con­tinue through October.

A federal grant is funding the $1.4 million project, which is part of a decade-long plan to build a path that will connect the airport’s runway with its hangars and terminal.

An aerial view of the taxiway. Courtesy | City of Hillsdale
An aerial view of the taxiway. Courtesy | City of Hillsdale

The expansion is expected to reduce the risk of col­lision by pro­viding a safer route for planes to reach the runway. 

“The par­allel taxiway extension project is a much-needed safety upgrade, sig­nif­i­cantly reducing the risk posed to air­craft of having to backtaxi using the single 5,000 foot runway, and allowing for simul­ta­neous oper­a­tions of taxiway and runway traffic,” according to a City of Hillsdale press release. 

The taxiway spans from the T‑hangers which store air­craft, to the east end of the runway,  Hillsdale Municipal Airport Manager Ginger Moore said.

Phase 1, which was started in 2015, con­sisted of a partial taxiway starting at the west end of the runway. The third phase, which will start after the second is com­plete, will join the two taxiways. 

Moore said the project has run “as smooth as silk.”

City Manager David Mackie said the taxiway helps the airport manage increasing traffic. 

 “We’ve gotten more jets asso­ciated with the college over the last several years,” Mackie said. “We didn’t used to have this kind of traffic.”

Typical traffic for the public airport includes business flyers, vis­itors to the college, and people taking flight lessons. 

“We actually had four jets take off at one time which is a big, big thing for the airport,” Mackie said.

Hillsdale res­i­dents expressed support for the expansion, according to Mackie. He said it will increase revenue within the com­munity and does not require local tax dollars, as the new taxiway is funded entirely by the federal government. 

Alex Dehaan, air­field engineer, explained that federal funding usually flows through the Michigan Department of Trans­portation. For the taxiway, however, Moore requested funds directly from the Federal Avi­ation Administration.

“She really tried to make it a point to go to the FAA them­selves and ask for funding for the airport project and it worked out,” Dehaan said. “Inter­est­ingly enough, it cuts out the Michigan DOT entirely, and we are coor­di­nating this all with the FAA.”

Moore said she hopes the airport will lead to a pos­itive first impression of Hillsdale for those who land there.

“Often­times your first impression means a lot,” Moore said. “When people walk off the air­plane and they see this beau­tiful airport, they have a good impression from the get-go.”