Friday, February 2, 2007

Hailey OKs night work at Friedman

Airport closure set for April 24 to May 23

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council on Tuesday agreed to waive some of the city's nighttime noise restrictions to allow Friedman Memorial Airport to repair its runways this spring in as little time as possible.

The Friedman Memorial Airport Authority plans to close the facility from April 24 to May 23 to repair its 25-year-old runway. Skywest Airlines has not yet announced plans for its flights to and from the airport during that period. A Horizon Air spokeswoman this week said that airline will not operate flights to the region during the planned Friedman closure.

Airport Manager Rick Baird told the council during a meeting at City Hall that the project has been in the works for the past three years. However, plans were somewhat constricted by a city ordinance that allows construction work only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. Baird requested that the council grant a special waiver to allow work at the airport to go from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Baird told the council that construction bid specifications include a provision that no loud noises will be permitted after 7 p.m.

"I'll leave it to you to decide whether the closure's impact on the (local) economy warrants the extended hours," Baird said.

With little discussion, the three council members present—Carol Brown, Richard Davis and Don Keirn—unanimously granted Baird's request. Council members were informed that absent Councilwoman Martha Burke, the Airport Authority chairwoman, wished to communicate her approval of the waiver.

The council's action contradicted a position in opposition to the waiver taken by Hailey Mayor and Airport Authority Vice Chair Susan McBryant during an authority meeting Jan. 10. However, McBryant, who did not attend Tuesday's council meeting due to a conflict, said in an interview that assurances from the airport management that no loud noises would be permitted after 7 p.m. had prompted her to change her position.

"I, like everyone, recognize that the airport needs to be put back together as soon as possible," she said.

In an interview, airport operations chief Pete Kramer said he doubted the construction work will be as loud as jet takeoffs there.

Phase 2 of the construction project is planned for Oct. 1 to Oct. 5 to paint markings on the runways and put grooves in the pavement. Baird said the airport will be closed during the days of Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 for the painting, and during the nights of Oct. 2 through Oct. 4 for the grooving work to allow the airport to be open during the day on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4.

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