The pilots and airmen who use the 13/31 Assault Strip at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base in St. Joseph will soon have a new runway thanks to joint efforts of the Air National Guard, Buchanan County, the City of St. Joseph, the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce and MoDOT. Rosecrans is home to the 139th Airlift Wing and is the headquarters for the Missouri Air National Guard.
The pilots using the current 13/31 Assault Strip have to contend with D cracking. The cracking could cause fragments of the runway to break off and bounce into the engine of the aircraft using the runway, resulting in damage to the machinery or worse. The damage to the concrete means pilots may only use the current runway for day operations.
The new runway will be 75 feet wide and 5,000 feet long with the capability to handle night operations. The Air National Guard is providing approximately 65 percent of the funding needed for this project. MoDOT is providing Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program funds for the remaining costs with the City of St. Joseph providing local match for the FAA funds, as well. Construction should take approximately four months with most of the work planned for this spring.
A ground breaking was held Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, on the current runway with many community and civic leaders in attendance and one of the 139th's aircraft as the backdrop. Representing the Air National Guard were the service men and women and civilian employees who work full-time on the base as well as Missouri's Adjutant General Major General Stephen L. Danner, Assistant Adjutant General Colonel Gregory Champagne, and 139th Civil Engineer Commander Colonel Grace Link. Several city council members, all three Buchanan County commissioners, St. Joseph's mayor, and MoDOT's own Aviation Senior Construction Inspector Tamara Pitts participated in the groundbreaking ceremony.