Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field is under construction to prevent future cave-ins, like one that happened in 2004, when a ramp collapsed and sank about a foot.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has launched a project to fill in vacant mine caverns that lie underneath the airport. When the ramp collapsed in 2004, DNR officials found a void where the collapse happened and discovered it wasn’t the only one.
“They started doing some test-boring, some sonar and found out that not only the airport, but the entire area is just completely undermined with vacated coal mines from the ‘20s and ‘30s,” said airport director Dennis Wiss.
He said the possibility of a complete collapse is small, but the project is a necessary measure to prevent their renovated runway, completed in 2010, from collapsing as well.
“This is an insurance policy making sure our 10-million dollars doesn’t literally fall into the ground,” said Wiss.
The project will involve drilling approximately 11-hundred, 6-inch-wide holes that will range in depth from 90 to 140 feet, depending on where the roof of the mine cavern begins. They will work from 8 P.M. to 6 A.M., so that the majority of air travel is uninterrupted.
Flight Instructor Matthew Shidler teaches flight lessons at the Terre Haute International Airport Flight School and doesn’t think the construction will affect him either.
“We stay out of their way, they stay out of our way,” said Shidler. “So we just kind of watch out for them.”
The project is expected to end by mid-July.