The second part of Trail’s multi-million dollar upgrade of the local airport is set to begin in about a month.
The city has let out tenders for the $4.6 million project to repave and improve the aging runway and apron at the airport.
“The existing asphalt is decades old and showing significant signs of deterioration, with significant cracking,” Airport Manager Robert Baker told the Trail Times. “The cost of maintenance is high.
“Rather than put money into a surface that’s falling apart, we worked with federal government, and through the Airports Capital Assistance Program secured funding for our major paved surfaces- runway, taxiway, and apron.”
The project will see the whole runway torn up and the existing asphalt hauled away. The underlying gravel will be inspected and repaired if necessary, then the asphalt replaced.
Baker says the project’s being done is such a way as not to interfere with daily flights in and out of the city.
“It’s kind of a neat thing to be involved with, night paving,” he says. “So once the air carrier’s last flight leaves for the afternoon, we’ll shut down the airport. All the work will be done at night, they’ll do 150-to-200-foot sections at a time, and then we’ll re-open the airport in the morning.”
While the runway itself won’t be physically lengthened, the project will see the existing runway markings repainted in such a way to meet regulations that allow for longer take-offs and landings. Baker says that can improve the airport’s reliability.
“When a commercial air carrier has to look at bumping people off their plane because of weight restrictions in the summer, it’s typically because they don’t have enough runway to use,” he explained. “But under the new regulations we can have longer runway lengths, so we can increase the weight of the aircraft, so not have to bump as many people or ask them to leave their baggage and ship it on a different flight. So it should improve customer service.”
Baker couldn’t say if the repaving may bring more carriers to the airport.
“I think what we’ll find is that with a new terminal building, and new asphalt, we might find people more curious and want to come visit and check us out,” he said. “So we might see additional larger aircraft landing, but our immediate concern is to continue to serve our existing air carrier.”
While pilots might appreciate the changes the most, passengers should also notice a smoother landing, and certainly a smoother approach into the terminal and from it.
Baker says it’ll also be pleasing aesthetically- the fading grey runway will be replaced by a slick black surface visible from miles away.
The company winning the tender will be expected to start in mid-August. The project should be completed by November, about the same time the new airport terminal is scheduled to open.