Raggs continues as Gary airport authority member
GARY | A member of the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority under investigation for an alleged weapon violation was on hand for the authority's monthly meeting on Monday.
Tramel Raggs, 32, of Gary was appointed to the airport authority by the Lake County Commissioners earlier this year. He also works as a special assistant to the commissioners.
Commissioner Gerry Scheub has said he wants Commissioner Roosevelt Allen to take over Raggs' position on the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority. However, at Monday's meeting, there was no mention of replacing Raggs.
A special prosecutor will decide if Raggs will be charged with pointing a gun at a motorist during a May 1 confrontation in downtown Gary.
During Monday's meeting, the commissioners heard Project Manager Scott Wheeler present information on the work being done. They also approved a number of contract changes and expenditures associated relocating utilities within the airport runway expansion project.
Wheeler said the airport and Majestic Star Casino have signed a letter of agreement to move a sanitary sewer line in the way of rail line relocation. Eventually the airport authority will pay for that relocation.
Another agreement, with Indiana American Water Co., will relocate six water lines. Four of those water lines are not in the runway's path, which will save more than $51,000. Originally, that part of the project was estimated to cost $632,000. However, the water line relocation will now cost $570,250. The airport authority will reimburse the water company for the work.
The airport will pay $126,493 to relocate a pedestal for a NIPSCO electric line. Wheeler said the electrical service was relocated in 2008 based on the original curve design realigning the EJ&E tracks to make way for the new runway. The curve's newest design would now hit the top of the pedestal.
"I would hope that wouldn't happen again," Commissioner Rev. Marion J. Johnson said.
Another expense of $7,098 resulted from the earth compaction being done near the CN Railroad tracks.
Railroad officials had concerns about how the vibrations being created by the compaction equipment that drops a 30–ton weight affected the tracks.
"The engineering company had to come out to recalibrate the machine and lowered the weight to 16 tons," Wheeler said. That created the extra costs.
Environmental concerns were also part of the agenda. Crews working in a wooded area of the airport found asbestos. Cleaning up the asbestos will cost another $130,133. Still to be determined is how petroleum–tainted soil will be remediated.
The airport recently received a wetlands permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will allow crews to drain the water there. The airport authority has purchased other wetland areas in exchange for dewatering the area within the airport's footprint, Wheeler said.
In other business, Johnson and Commissioner Silas Wilkerson III asked how many local residents are working on the airport runway expansion project.
"In my travels around the area, people ask me how many local people are working on this," Johnson said. "I'd like to answer those questions."
Interim Director Steve Landry said more than 70 percent of the contractors and sub–contractors working on the project have Northwest Indiana business addresses. The exact number of local workers hasn't been available. However, Landry said he would ask for that information and forward it to commissioners.