GarCo airport to revamp its runway |

GarCo airport to revamp its runway

RIFLE – Third District Congressman John Salazar announced Wednesday that the Garfield County Airport will receive a federal grant of $1.5 million to begin renovations of the runway.”We’re going to see more and more traffic due to the current oil and gas situation in Garfield County,” Salazar said. “This will make the airport safer for the increasing air traffic on the Western Slope.” The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the grant after Congress passed a bill on June 14. The bill grants the appropriation of funds to allow the airport to begin an environmental assessment determining the best course of action for construction. The bill is still pending in the senate. With the passage of the bill, The FAA will fund 95 percent of the $22 million project and the Colorado Division of Transportation is expected to match Garfield County’s portion to make up the remaining 5 percent.According to Jennifer Webster, director of office policy and government relations, the CDOT Capital Construction Fund, where the money will come from, is reserved for highway and road construction only.In order to allocate the funds for this project, “The state legislature needs to support us (CDOT) in order to allow the funds be used for the runway,” Webster said. Renovations for the airport include realignment and leveling of the runway to allow for safer takeoff and landing accommodations, and development of a pilot-program for a radar system that the facility currently lacks is being considered as well.The runway will be slightly pivoted, counter-clockwise, alleviating an obstructing mountain causing planes to bank left after take-off. The new runway will follow the natural contours of the valley so that takeoff and landings will be more of a straight shot. Planes also currently stand a chance of over-shooting the runway when landing due to a slight decline in slope from east to west. Plans call for the re-routing of County Road 352, part of Dry Creek Road, some power lines and sewer lines as well. However, construction won’t begin until 2008 and is scheduled to conclude in 2010. The plan now is to continue with environmental assessment and engineering plans beginning in six to eight months. The 30-year-old runway already exceeds seven thousand flights per year and is expected to increase to double that amount over the next five years. With the renovations, the airport will change its designation from a B-2 air strip to a C-3 air strip allowing the facility to accommodate larger aircraft.”With the increase in volume that we’ve already seen, it’s a necessity to be able to accommodate larger aircraft,” said Mike Ballard, Garfield County’s maintenance technician at the airport. The process started over six years ago before Salazar was in office. It is the first time in history that the federal, state, and county governments have all worked together to accomplish something like this. Salazar thanked CDOT for working hard on this project in conjunction with the federal and state governments to ensure its success.”This will make the airport safer and that is what we want to do,” Salazar said. Contact John Gardner: 945-8515, ext.

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