Project will close airport

Runway repairs will last 40 days

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— The Yampa Valley Regional Airport will shut down for 40 days this spring.

The Routt County commissioners announced Monday the airport would shut down sometime during mud season to complete a $4.5 to $5 million runway-improvement project.

Manager Jim Parker said the airport had to shut down during the overlay asphalt project because it only has one runway.

"Safety is one of the primary considerations. We're trying to do a project so airplanes and crafts are not basically flying over the top of men and the equipment that is paving (the runway)," he said.

The lowest bidder will be awarded the county contract today and a date will be set depending on the contractor's schedule and weather, Parker said.

The request requires the project be finished in 40 calendar days.

Parker said plans are to start the project after the ski season ends April 15 and before the summer season starts in June.

The shoulder season sees three commercial flights per day and on April 6 jetliners stop flying into the airport.

Parker said May has traditionally been the slowest month for local air travel.

Even if a portion of the runway was kept open during the improvement project, commercial planes would still have trouble taking off from the shortened strip.

Planes might not take off at all under federal guidelines and violating weight restrictions could mean bumping passengers from flights.

"We didn't see the benefit for commercial flights and corporate flights," Parker said.

In 1994, the airport went through a similar process of rebuilding the runways. With the help of $3.9 million in grants, the runway will be repaved, improvements will be made to the blast pad, grading will be done and runway lights will be reinstalled.

Parker said after this spring, another runway overlay asphalt project would not have to be done for 10 to 15 years.

Thirty days after the project is completed, night traffic would be stopped as the contractor finishes the project. Commercial flights would continue during the day.

While the airport is closed, Parker said employees would have the chance to work on projects that might ordinarily disrupt travelers.

The last time the airport was shut down was in August 2001 when the runway closed for a fog seal project. Parker said they expected to have the airport closed for just a week in 2001, but rainy weather extended the project for a few more days.

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