Photo by Scott Franz
A Beechcraft Baron on Thursday taxis to the runway at Steamboat Springs Airport on the Alpha connector. The reconstruction of the old taxiway is the first in a line of improvement projects at the city's general aviation airport.
Steamboat Springs More than $500,000 in state and federal grant funding soon will make flights a little safer at Steamboat Springs Airport.
The city plans to use the grants from the Colorado Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Division and the Federal Aviation Administration to replace the airport's oldest pavement that makes up the taxiway called the Alpha connector.
The old connector is one of two routes planes use while taxing on and off the runway, and it currently has some problems with drainage and ponding, especially during the winter when water that builds up on the taxiway turns to ice.
“It hasn't been a huge issue, but this project will make it safer,” Airport Manager Mel Baker said, adding that the new connector will be designed to have better drainage.
Just as importantly, the project will allow the airport to meet all of the FAA's design standards for general aviation airports, and it is a prelude to bigger, more substantial improvement projects planned for Bob Adams Field in the coming years.
Baker said the most significant additions being eyed for the airport include the lengthening of the runway by 600 feet and the development of new hangars.
While a longer runway wouldn't allow any new class of larger aircraft to utilize the airport, Baker said an extension would allow pilots to take off with heavier fuel and cargo loads, thereby enticing more planes to take off and land in Steamboat while also increasing profits from fuel sales.
The city is planning to use grant funding next year to start the environmental study and preliminary design work needed to lengthen the runway.
He envisions construction could begin on that project as soon as 2016.
“The public investment here is what attracts the private dollars,” Baker said.
He added there also are plans for additional private hangars to be built on part of seven acres available for future development.
All of the improvements stem from the master plan completed for the airport in 2008.
Baker said projects are included in the city's capital improvement plan.
“We'd love to get $20 million and just do (all of the improvements in the master plan), but funds will never be available in lump sumps like that,” Baker said. “So you pick projects, and you prioritize going forward.”
He said much of the state and federal grant dollars used for airport improvements come from the sale of aviation fuel.
The city of Steamboat Springs is proposing to spend $38,888 from the airport capital fund to partially match the state and federal grants it received for the Alpha connector project.
The Steamboat Springs City Council will consider approving the grant funding when it meets Tuesday night.
Baker said some of the surveying work needed to replace the connector already is underway, with construction slated to begin next year.
The project comes as the airport staff is starting to get settled into its new, 2,700-square-foot fix-based operator facility that opened last year.
And the airport is continuing to see growth.
Baker said in 1963, Bob Adams Field had five based aircraft and recorded 2,000 takeoffs and landings.
Today, he said it has about 120 base aircraft and it recorded more than 11,738 takeoffs and landings last year.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com