Boonville plans to redesign and repave the runway at Jesse Viertel Memorial Airport in an attempt to attract more airplane traffic.

The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission awarded the city almost $3.74 million for the project, and the city will have to contribute $415,331. Boonville Mayor Ned Beach said the council last month approved the state grant that will contribute 90 percent of the cost. The airport has a 4,000-foot paved runway, about 50 hangar facilities and available on-site aviation maintenance.

Kate Fjell, assistant to the city administrator, said the new runway should be in use for years to come. The size of the strip will not change, so the types of airport-accessible airplanes will remain consistent.

Beach said the redesign and new surfacing may convince more pilots to use the airport. The airport services corporate and private planes and won’t be used commercially.

Beach said the city is still waiting for the money from the commission so the project can begin, but believes the funds will be granted, as the commission previously awarded funds for other projects in the city. “The state has not written any checks yet,” he said. “The city did not have to put up much.”

The airport also offers flight lessons, aircraft charter, pilot services, airplane sales and airport management services.

City employees on not always on the site to operate the airport, which Beach said is not uncommon. Beach said the airport receives a lot of income from its hangars, which airplane owners rent to store their planes.

“It’s a small airport,” he said. “They do their own registration. That’s pretty typical. We do sell fuel at the airport. It pays for itself.”

Beach said people are already flying into the city for its golf course, located next to the airport on Highway 287, and the Riverboat gambling casino along with other city events. He said he doesn’t think most residents realize what the airport provides to the city.

“It surprises me how many people fly,” he said. “It gets used a lot, more than what people would think.”

Calls to Airport Manager John Taylor were not returned at the time of publication.