Friday, August 9, 2013

At airport, plans for the future

Eight-phase project is intended to meet safety standards

Express Staff Writer

The Friedman Memorial Airport Authority on Tuesday approved a contract for design and construction management of changes at the airport that will help it meet federally mandated safety standards.
    The $273,822 contract with consultant T-O Engineers will cover design of a new taxi lane for small planes to access hangars, pavement overlay to strengthen an aircraft parking apron and replacement of a portion of the airport perimeter fence.
    The construction approved is Phase 1 of an eight-phase project intended to allow the airport to meet ground-operations safety standards set by congressional legislation. The work must be completed by 2015.
    To meet the standards’ spatial requirements, the airport will have to relocate and extend taxiways and relocate hangars.
    T-O Engineers representative Dave Mitchell told the board that bids will be opened on Aug. 26 for the approximately $2 million Phase 1 construction. He said he expects four to five bids.
    “It’s a pretty big project,” he said.
    Mitchell said construction should get under way by late September for the fence and apron overlay work, and in the spring for the new taxi lane.
    The new taxi lane is needed because the taxiway that parallels the runway will need to be moved 70 feet to the west, obliterating the current taxi lane to the T-hangars.
    Strengthening of the apron on the north side of the Atlantic Aviation building is needed to allow large private planes to park there after they lose parking space on the south side of the building due to a requirement for a wider taxi lane there. Large planes can park there now, but only on metal plates that spread their weight out.
    The new fence at the northeastern corner of the airport is needed to meet a federal requirement of an “obstacle-free” area. The fence, parallel to state Highway 75, is intended only to keep people and animals off the runway.
    “For the first time in a long time, I’m really pleased with the way the airport is going,” board Chair Ron Fairfax said. “I think things are getting done.”
    Last week, Baird told the Idaho Mountain Express that airport officials are now concentrating on improving facilities and services at the existing site, not relocating the airport to another site.
    In other actions, the board:
l Approved a $19.6 million budget for fiscal year 2014.
    “The budget this year is a very conservative budget,” Fairfax said. “Next year I think we will need to build some flexibility into our salaries. Next year we will have a better idea of where we’re going to be over the next five years.”
l Heard from airport Manager Rick Baird that the airport experienced 5,345 landings and takeoffs in July.
    “That’s the biggest July in six years,” Baird said. “I think that these numbers are reflecting that this valley is beginning to climb out of a very difficult four to five years.”
l Was presented by architectural firm Mead and Hunt three potential alternatives for airport terminal reconfiguration needed to accommodate aircraft parking on its north side. The three involve new construction of between about 14,000 square feet and about 24,000 square feet. The design work is only in an early stage.
    The terminal renovation is part of the plan to meet federal safety standards. However, Baird said the expanded terminal will “give our visitors a great first face and last face of coming to and from our valley.”

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