Runway improvements total $3.2 mill | SierraSun.com
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Runway improvements total $3.2 mill

ANNE GROGAN, Sierra Sun

Truckee-Tahoe Airport is not merely receiving a facelift this summer, but is undergoing a major overhaul dominated by a $3.8 million runway project funded almost entirely by federal and state agencies.

“The most important parts of an airport are the paved surfaces,” Truckee-Tahoe Airport General Manager Peter Soderquist said. “Runways and taxiways are very high on the eligibility list for FAA funds.”

Ninety percent of the $3.8 million runway repair project was provided by the Federal Aviation Administration to the TTAD, while five of the remaining 10 percent was provided by the state. The project is predominantly designed to provide safer, longer-lasting runway and taxiway surfaces to pilots using the Truckee-Tahoe Airport.

Granite Construction Co. was awarded the runway project, which involves laying three inches of asphalt on a six-inch aggregate base, which in turn sits upon 100 percent compacted soil.

“One hundred percent compacted soil is rock solid,” Soderquist said.

In an effort to ensure that FAA funds are being applied as effectively as possible, Soderquist said, the FAA promises to award an extra 6 percent of project costs to firms meeting the FAA’s strict project specifications with 100 percent consistency.

“Which Granite Construction has done,” Soderquist said.

Though paved surfaces are high on the FAA’s funding priority list, Soderquist explained, airports everywhere constantly need similar upgrades and are always competing for FAA assistance. Securing FAA funds requires consistency and credibility over time, he said. Misuse of funds can result in assistance refusal for years to come.

“We let them take care of the big stuff and we don’t bother them with the nickle-and-dime projects,” Soderquist said. “And we take care of what they give us.”

Though not to be considered a nickle-and-dime project, replacing paved hangar ramp surfaces which have failed is a project the TTAD has been funding on its own through careful planning for three years, Soderquist said. The $600,000 project began last year when two hangar ramps were replaced. Another two are currently being replaced this summer and another ramp will need replacement next year. Undertaking the cost of this project helped ensure TTAD’s receipt of FAA funds for the much larger and more costly runway project, he said.

In addition to the two paved-surface projects now underway, the TTAD secured an $800,000 low-interest loan from the State Aeronautics Fund to finish construction of 10 executive hangars to house some of the larger airplanes regularly seen at the Truckee-Tahoe Airport.

A comprehensive, $131,000 alarm system, which includes two heat detectors and two smoke detectors, is being installed in all the hangars as well.

The heat detectors monitor the rate of rise in temperature and only sound when the rise is sudden. The alarm system is connected to a central monitoring system which will automatically dispatch local fire fighting personnel.

“I’ve never seen anything like this at any other airport,” Soderquist said. “This system offers a degree of unmatched security to our airplane owners.”

Groundbreaking ceremonies are to be held Friday, Aug. 20 at 10 a.m. for the new California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Truckee Fire District combined firehouse. The station will be located on TTAD land but is not funded by the TTAD.

The new Staggerwing Cafe opened at the Truckee-Tahoe Airport earlier this summer, providing an attraction to pilots from out of the area and to locals alike. Owner Rondi Bowman said the cafe has been very busy.

In addition, a new fuel island is being built at the airport. The 12,000 gallon above-ground fuel storage tank, complete with an electronic fuel pump and payment card reader was purchased for its portability.

If in the future the fuel island needs to be relocated, Soderquist said, problems associated with buried fuel storage tanks, such as costly soil contamination studies, will not be an issue. Despite all the projects currently underway at the Truckee-Tahoe Airport, the airport has seen no decline in the amount of traffic coming in, Soderquist said.

With the ramp currently reduced by 50 percent, he said, parking visiting aircraft has been difficult. Alternate, more remote tie-down areas were established for these aircraft and informal shuttle services to the terminal were established to compensate for the inconvenience. Construction has also eliminated use of the former fuel island. All airplanes needing fuel, therefore, have had to refuel from trucks. The process has meant that pilots have often had to wait to refuel their airplanes.


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