Pentagon approves Offutt runway repairs

Posted at 10:59 PM, Jun 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-16 23:59:06-04

The Pentagon will spend tens of millions of dollars fixing the battered runway at Offutt Air Force Base. The 55th wing is staying.

The runway is over 7-decades old with 7-decades of problems. After months of anticipations, it’s now a done deal, this is about a $55-million dollar project. Lawmakers are praising the agreement, so are local businesses in Bellevue.

 “A big sigh of relief,” said Bellevue mayor Rita Sanders.

The runway is riddled with cracks, potholes and divits will get a facelift.

“Now the stars have aligned and we are all working together to make this happen,” said Sanders.

The U.S. Air Force announced it will patch up this runway, costing about $55 million dollars.

It’s not a full replacement though,

“We do have fiscal constraints, this will cost about 55 million, this is kind of a middle approach by the Air Force,” said Nebraska U.S. Senator Deb Fischer.

Fischer has been pulling the strings trying to get this approved.

“I was just really pleased we got it done,” said Fischer.

Also pleased are Olde Towne Bellevue business owners who stand to profit from this decision too.

“What's so great about having the military here-they are good customers and we always have new customers it's not the same people all the time,” said Frank Kumor, owner of Erwin’s Jewelers Co.

A staple in this area since 1958, the upgrade to the runway boosts his bottom line.

“It wouldn't do as well as it does without the military here, none of the stores in this area-none of the retail establishments,” said Kumor.

Down the street is Juice For Life.

“We decided to open a juice bar here in Olde Towne Bellevue we decided to be that lighthouse in our community,” said co-owner of Juice For Life Darrien Sheppard.

Sheppard came to the area because of Offutt Air Force base because her dad is in the Air Force. She says the diversity of cultures the base brings helps her business.

“We get a variety of different kinds of people that come into the area,” said Sheppard.

The economic impact of Offutt Air Force base surpasses a billion dollars. Design work starts in the Fall, construction is expected to start in 2018 and last 9 months. This is supposed to extend the life of the runway for another 20 years.