Runway work delayed at airport

ESCANABA — After a recent scheduling change, the Delta County Airport now plans to begin construction work on a major project next spring, according to Airport Manager Kelly Smith.

“We are rehabilitating our north-south runway… and we’re rehabilitating Taxiway A,” she said. The north-south runway is also known as Runway 18/36.

Construction on this project was originally scheduled to begin later this month. Smith said these efforts were delayed due to the length of lead times for products and materials that will be used in the project.

“Basically, we have lead times longer than we have construction season left,” she said.

When the project starts after the spring thaw in 2018, the airport will mill and replace the top six inches of pavement on Runway 18/36 and most of Taxiway A. However, Smith said the northern section of Taxiway A will have to be completely reconstructed as part of this process.

“The ground underneath has been eroded away,” she said.

Smith said construction is not expected to have a large impact on airport operations, as Runway 9/27 will still be operational.

“We don’t expect it to impact any commercial flights at all,” she said. However, there will be a period of roughly 18 hours in which both runways will be closed down to work on the intersection between them. Smith said the airport will try to schedule this period to take place over a weekend.

These are not the only improvements that will be made to the runway and the taxiway as part of this project.

“We will also be doing upgrades to our lighting systems on both,” Smith said. The airport will replace failing circuits, install new signage, and repaint Taxiways B and C as part of this project, as well.

Smith noted that, in addition to this work, the runway will be redesignated to reflect the shifting location of the magnetic north pole over the years. Because of these shifts, the runway is no longer technically aligned with magnetic north.

“It changes your latitudes and longitudes,” she said.

This project, which will cost an estimated $2.7 million, will be paid for with the airport’s entitlement funds from the Federal Aviation Administration.

“That funding… is based on our 10,000 (annual) enplanements,” Smith said. While the airport receives $1 million in entitlement funds from the FAA each year, they were able to save money in 2016 to put toward the project.

According to Smith, design work on the airport’s next major project — which will include the rehabilitation of Runway 9/27 and Taxiway B — will also begin in 2018. Construction on this project is expected to start in 2019.

“We’re going to have two full… building seasons,” she said.