A burgeoning local tourism industry
Alexander Field – South Wood County Airport is preparing for something locals have always known: that Wisconsin Rapids is a world-class, fly-in destination. The airport is expanding to accommodate a growing economic tourism industry in central Wisconsin and to serve as an accessible means to a variety of recreational, cultural, historical and vacation destinations. The recent development of a luxury golf resort in the area prompted the airport to make plans to increase their infrastructure and to enlarge the existing 7,000-square-yard apron to 30,000-square-yards. The development is aimed at creating space for the upcoming increase in larger jet operations and will include improvements to airfield pavement and circulation routes—as well as hangar and taxiway development and the installation of new LED runway lighting.
Growth and jet-setting
The airport needed a layout design that would allow 20 large jet aircraft to freely maneuver and park around the apron of the airport while still allowing for future expansion. A substantial increase in apron size and thoughtful orientation provided the solution and a water resources team was consulted to design efficient drainage techniques to utilize the airport’s sandy soils and encourage proper drainage throughout.
Airport management, the Airport Commission and the Bureau of Aeronautics worked with MSA to select the ultimate desired layout and together secured state and federal funding. Phase I of the project addresses all expansion-related construction utilizing $4 million in funding obtained from a Wisconsin State Budget grant. This includes rehabbing the runway, a portion of the project that will involve a condensed, three-week shut down period in later fall, during a slow time of the tourism season. Phase II will be receiving an additional $2.5 million in federal funding to complete the parallel taxiway.
The airport, golf resort, City of Wisconsin Rapids and surrounding areas are all pleased with the progress and forward momentum. This collaborative effort promises to drive more tourism traffic and income to the local economy and help build a stronger, more sustainable future.