Moving dirt to expand the county airport |

Moving dirt to expand the county airport

Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado ” Expect to see construction through the end of September with the start of improvements at the Garfield County Airport east of Rifle near the Mamm Creek Road.

The $33 million project will improve the grade of the airport’s runway ” especially approaching from east to west ” as well as expanding the safety areas surrounding the runway, according to County Manager Ed Green.

“Part of the reason we’re doing it is because right now the runway has a 1.2 percent grade,” Green said. “The (Federal Aviation Administration) likes to see a maximum angle of .8 percent. Coming from the east, the plateau is a problem. We’re changing the angle so there are better approaches from both sides.”

The change will make the 7,350-foot runway safer for both take-offs and landings.

“The existing runway was built in the 1980s,” said Marek Kubesa, the project engineer for PRT Consulting Inc. out of Denver, which is overseeing the project. “What we’re doing is realigning the runway and rotating it with the valley a little better. It’s too steep right now for the big jets to come in. We’re shallowing it out.”

The Garfield County Airport handles thousands of flights per year that include small planes and private jets.

Approximately 90 percent of the funding for the airport runway improvement project is being provided by the FAA and another 5 percent by the state, Green said. The county is paying a little less than $2 million.

Construction at the airport began in June and the first phase is expected to last through the end of September. The entire project is expected to be complete sometime between 2011 and 2013.

There will be no interruption to traffic at the Garfield County Airport/Mamm Creek exit off Interstate 70, Green said.

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