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Cleared for landing

Grant, Era touch down on Kenai's new runway

Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2007

 

  A deHavilland Dash-8 from Era Aviation takes off to the north on the newly resurfaced and improved runway at Kenai Municipal Airport on Wednesday afternoon after it was reopened to use. Photo by M. Scott Moon

A deHavilland Dash-8 from Era Aviation takes off to the north on the newly resurfaced and improved runway at Kenai Municipal Airport on Wednesday afternoon after it was reopened to use.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Moving an airport runway, as most could imagine, is no simple task, but $12 million and 16 months after beginning, construction workers at Kenai Municipal Airport have accomplished just that.

Precipitated by a Federal Aviation Administration requirement that runways have a 1,000-foot long safety zone at each end, and Kenai's runway only had an 800-foot safe zone to the south, 255 feet of runway was added to the north end this summer, essentially moving the airport's main runway into compliance. Kenai's city cemetery was only 800 feet from the south end of the runway.

"Grant Aviation landed at 9:40 (a.m.) and Era came in at 10:25 (a.m.)," said Airport Manager Mary Bondurant on Wednesday, about the first two commercial aircraft to land on Kenai's brand new runway.

"We're no longer landing on the taxiway," she said.

During the airport improvement project, which spanned the past two construction seasons, the main runway's taxiway was lengthened to the entire length of the runway, and was used as the runway while the main runway was lengthened and resurfaced.

An FAA runway pavement viability assessment indicated Kenai's runway should have been replaced three years ago, former manager Rebecca Cronkhite said when construction began last year.

Bondurant said the new runway is grooved, which allows for safer wet-pavement landings. She said the grooves will not hamper winter snow removal.

The finished length of the new runway remains at 7,585 feet.

The project also included lengthening the float plane landing basin by 1,000 feet, enabling it to accommodate commercial float planes such as Twin Otters.

Next month, the float plane basin will be closed and drained so it can be widened by 100 feet to 250 feet, according to Bondurant.

She said it takes about two weeks to drain the basin, then the ground work will be done and the basin drain valve will be closed to allow spring rains and runoff to fill it next year. The float plane basin is not used during winter.

The basin is slated to close on Oct. 15, Bondurant said.

Other work in progress at the airport includes taxiway lights being installed at the north end of the main taxiway.

"We do have the parallel taxiway closed to the north right now," said Bondurant.

She also said navigational aids, which had been turned off since June 9 while the main runway was being resurfaced, were scheduled to come back on this morning.

The cost of the taxiway project was $2.2 million and the estimated cost of the runway project is $10 million.

Funded mostly through FAA grants, the construction will cost the city of Kenai $55,112 for the taxiway and 2.5 percent of the final runway cost currently estimated to be $250,000.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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