Steamboat Springs The runway at Yampa Valley Regional Airport won’t close for 60 days in spring 2014 after all. But the day of reckoning still is out there.
“We just received the confirmation yesterday afternoon (from the Federal Aviation Administration) that the runway closure will be moved to 2015,” YVRA Manager Dave Ruppel wrote in an email Wednesday morning. “We will still do the work that does not require an extended runway closure in 2014, but the runway work will occur in the second quarter of 2015 with a 60 day closure at that time.”
Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan explained that during the past month, FAA officials have been telling Ruppel that their agency would be unable to complete grant funding documents and contracts until June instead of February, when they usually are in place.
As a result, one option was to delay the onset of runway repaving until August, a much busier time for commercial and general aviation than the late April/May time frame Steamboat Today reported about as recently as Sept. 24.
Sullivan said high-ranking FAA officials have been insisting that airport projects be completed within the same calendar year in which their granting is approved. And when some of the smaller aspects of the runway project at YVRA are taken into account, that would have been very difficult to accomplish in 2014, he added.
“Dave worked diligently to persuade the FAA to allow us to do a multiyear grant project,” Sullivan said. “It’s a good thing for us. He went down to Denver” to meet with regional FAA officials “three times.”
Ruppel said not only was he concerned about impacting summer tourism in August next year, but he also saw a danger that unexpected construction and weather delays could bump the runway paving up against wintry weather.
“It was a real concern that if we didn’t get the funding early enough, we could get pushed into a situation where we had a greater impact on the community flight program, but also, we’d be trying to pave as we moved into the cold weather months of the year,” Ruppel said. “The FAA has strict rules that you can’t pave below 50 degrees.”
Sullivan said work to be done on landing lights and repaving the connectors between the runway and the taxiway still will go forward in 2014. The same is true of the first course of base material for a new looped maintenance road around the runway, which the FAA is requiring to eliminate the need for maintenance trucks to cross the runway.
Ruppel said he’ll take the opportunity during winter 2014-15 to stockpile some of the construction materials so the paving contractor will be able to get to work immediately after the ski area closes in mid-April 2015.
Parking lot cash register counted on to raise customer service in YVRA parking lot
In other airport business, the Routt County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to allow Ruppel to spend $13,771 to purchase and install a refurbished cash register and reporting system in the new parking kiosk next to the east exit to the long-term parking lot at YVRA.
It represents the latest effort to eliminate the annoyance created when travelers returning to their vehicles at YVRA are unable to pay their parking tab and activate the swinging arm that lets them exit the lot.
The issues have plagued the automated payment system for its eight-year lifespan, but Ruppel said the reports that the parking system provides him show no more than 5 percent of customers are affected.
Still, “the frustration level of passengers that have been impacted is very high,” he acknowledged.
Going forward, airport customer service personnel will man the kiosk to help customers whose debit and credit cards are not read by the system. Unlike past years, the cash register will allow customers to pay with cash without having to go into the terminal, Ruppel said.
The register will tie into the overall parking system, allowing for accountability over the cash drawer.
Customers still will have the option of using their debit and credit cards to pay for their long-term parking using the automated system at the east exit and at the north exit, which will not be staffed.
Parking fees at YVRA generate $260,000 annually. A complete replacement of the automated payment system would cost $300,000. The new cash register and reporting system will allow time for a new system to be budgeted, Ruppel said.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1
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