Sustainability paves way for Runway 2-20

Project Summary

In 1989, the Joliet Regional Port District purchased the Lewis University Airport with the intention of transforming the small single-engine-plane facility into a modern-day airport that could handle today’s large corporate jets.  The Port District selected Hanson to help make this vision a reality on a shoestring budget. 

Hanson first prepared a financial feasibility study to consider a $5.6 million revenue bond issuance for construction of a 90,000-square-foot airport terminal and hangar.  Once the bond was issued, Hanson began providing planning, design and construction services for a new primary Runway 2-20, which would support jet aircraft as large as the Gulfstream G-V; an extension of Runway 9-27; and the installation of instrument approach equipment and taxiway lighting systems on Runways 9 and 2.  Furthermore, by partnering with ComEd and Mineral Solutions, the Hanson-Port District team designed a groundbreaking financial and environmentally responsible plan.

The project’s major components included:

  • tapping new and unusual funding sources such as the Federal Aviation Administration’s innovative financing grant,
  • designing embankment fill using free fly-ash residue from Illinois’ coal power plants saving the Port District $15 million in conventional fill material and labor, and
  • constructing a 6,500-foot runway comprising one of the largest environmental-reuse projects in the nation at the time of its completion.


Providing architectural and engineering services to the Port District over a 15-year period, Hanson played an integral role in the development of Lewis University Airport.  Today, the FAA recognizes Lewis University Airport as a vital general aviation reliever facility for the Chicago metropolitan area.

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