Yampa Valley Regional Airport gets new snow sweeper
$350,000 cost paid for by airline landing fees, other charges
May 26, 2010
Terminal bids released
Yampa Valley Regional Airport Manager Dave Ruppel confirmed Monday that the Federal Aviation Administration had given him the go-ahead to advertise for bids on a two-year terminal construction project. When complete, it will create a new baggage carousel and attractive main-level dining room with its own fireplace.
Steamboat Springs — The snow removal crew at Yampa Valley Regional Airport will have a new weapon in its closet next ski season when it puts a truck-mounted, 22-foot-wide broom to work on the runway.
The airport recently took delivery of a new Western Star truck mounted with a Sweepster 3100 rotary broom. The $350,000 truck and broom package were paid for entirely from landing fees and passenger facility charges collected from the airlines that fly into YVRA, Assistant Airport Manager Dean Smith said.
Smith said the stiff bristles on the new Sweepster will allow his crews to bust up and remove the thin layer of ice that sometimes forms after the bulk of a fresh snowfall has been removed by the blade of a snowplow.
"With the many snow days that we have here at YVRA during the winter season, we have found that these brooms are much more effective at keeping the runway in great shape than a snowplow," Smith said. "As a snowplow (blade) passes over the runway, it heats up due to friction and will actually leave a thin layer of ice on the runway. We come behind with the brooms for the final clearing, and the brooms leave no thin ice layer behind."
The airport already has one 18-foot broom, but the addition of the newer broom will help crews keep the airport open during periods of intense snow.
"This is not like plowing snow on the street," Smith said. "If we leave any chunks of snow and ice on the runway, there's a chance they could get ingested into (jet engines). There are days when we have our hands full. It's a science and a ballet."
The airport employs 16 people on its air-side snow removal crew and four more on the terminal side of the airport.
Smith can put a variety of machines to work on the runway, including a huge snowplow, a pair of snowblowers with large augers and tank trucks that dispense biodegradable liquid and pellet de-icers and anti-icers.
The airport even has a PistenBully snowcat that is used to pack snow that has been plowed off the runway to prevent the wind from redistributing it into drifts.
But there will be times, particularly when the temperature is below 25 degrees, when nothing puts the finishing touches on the runway like the Sweepster, Smith said.
According to company literature, the brush is fitted with a combination of steel and polypropylene bristles. And its 46-inch diameter allows it to work at higher speeds.
A large, hydrostatic motor on the back of the truck powers the broom and allows the operator to make infinite adjustments to the speed at which it spins from inside the cab.
Smith said his employees take pride in the praise they get from pilots about winter runway conditions.
"The snow crew here has had numerous compliments from pilots from all the airlines," Smith said. "They fly here from Minneapolis, Chicago, LaGuardia and Kennedy and say, 'We wish we had runways this nice.'"