State Names Lewis Reliever Airport of the Year

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Reflecting the importance and vitality of the state’s aviation system, six airports have received Airport of the Year awards from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Lewis University Airport in Romeoville was named Reliever Airport of the Year. Since the Joliet Regional Port District took over the airport at Lewis University in 1989, the facility has grown, both through the school’s already 51-year-old aviation program and a burgeoning number of clients using the airport.

Lewis University Airport in Romeoville now boasts more than 1,000 acres near Illinois 53 and Renwick Road, two jet-class runways and more than 100,000 takeoffs and landings each year.

Last November, the Port District dedicated its new $8.2 million, eight-story Federal Aviation Administration control tower, a project in the works for more than 15 years.

The awards were presented last week during the Illinois Public Airports Association Fall Conference in Galena.

“Illinois serves as the nexus of North America’s transportation network, with aviation playing a key role in moving passengers and freight around the state, country and world,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman, in a press release.
“Our aviation partners, from massive international airports to smaller regional facilities to a single grass landing strip, are vital to our state’s economy and mobility. These awards represent our thanks for the services they provide.”
The facilities were selected because of their accomplishments, including an outstanding partnership with IDOT and a strong commitment to customer safety and satisfaction. Among the award considerations are cooperation and coordination with the state, safety record, maintenance of the facility, and promotion of aviation and educational events.
In addition to Lewis Airport, the 2023 recipients are:
  • Willard Airport, Champaign Primary Airport of the Year
  • Mount Vernon Outland Airport Large General Aviation Airport of the Year
  • Salem-Leckrone Field Small General Aviation Airport of the Year
  • Tri-County Airport, Yates City Private Airport of the Year
  • Vertiport Chicago Heliport of the Year
Illinois is home to 100 public-use airports and heliports, with nearly 3,000 aircraft registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. The system of airports supports more than 492,000 jobs, with a combined payroll of $21.9 billion and a total economic impact of $95.4 billion.
Across the state, there are over 700 aviation facilities, including heliports, balloon, glider and ultra-light landing facilities, and grass landing strips.

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