The Soldotna Municipal Airport is going through a growth spurt.
Construction to expand the apron to allow for more lease lots, and to “rehabilitate” areas of asphalt at the airport that are in “bad shape” is in the preliminary stages, Kyle Kornelis, Soldotna city engineer said.
Crews are currently removing poor soils and filling those spaces with good gravel that can be compacted 100 percent to create a workable surface, Kornelis said. This process will last a few more weeks. The perimeter fence is also being moved to align with Funny River Road.
Clearing and grubbing — removing of vegetation and debris — started last fall, shutting down in the winter. In May, construction started up again with utility work followed by the dirt work, Kornelis said.
Last fall, when trees were being removed, an old drinking well was discovered in the woods, in the middle of where future lease lots will go. The casing was found sticking a few feet above the ground. Kornelis said the contractor will work with Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation standards to abandon the well by excavating and cutting the casing and filling the void with grout slurry — cement paste.
“It’s a fairly insignificant surprise,” Kornelis said. “Little things like that in a construction project are fairly typical. I don’t expect there to be any issues whatsoever, and that’s why there are established regulations with DEC for the proper abandonment of these wells.”
At the June 26 Soldotna City Council meeting, the council unanimously passed a resolution to authorize a change order to abandon the well and allow Soldotna City Manager, Mark Dixson, to execute any more change orders within the original scope of the project in the amount of $38,944.
The project is primarily funded through a Federal Aviation Administration grant.
Kornelis said there has been extensive effort by the maintenance department to fill cracks in the asphalt and the pavement is getting pretty uneven. Part of the rehabilitation process will be to remove and crush the asphalt. That apron area will be repaved. The crushed asphalt will then be reused as a sub-base in the new apron area.
There are about 100 lease lots currently at the airport. The airport commission is still in the preliminary stages of construction and is trying to determine the new lease lot layout configurations. The apron expansion will create 20 more lease lots, at the most, Kornelis said.
“It’s not really a significantly large expansion, but it will provide new lease lots on that west end,” he said.
Kornelis said people have inquired about availability dates for the new lease lots, but construction won’t finish until early October. He said people interested in the project should attend the next airport commission meeting on August 15 at 5:30 p.m. in the Soldotna City Council Chamber.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.