Steamboat Springs — Yampa Valley Regional Airport Manager Dave Ruppel held a conference call Monday with the airlines that fly in and out of Hayden. He was to discuss the runway resurfacing project that will shut down air service in the spring.
Ruppel said detailed survey work is being done and hundreds of core samples are being taken ahead of announcing specific dates for the closure. That information should be available in a couple of weeks, he said, at which time a schedule will be announced publicly.
The maintenance work, mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration, will close the runway for 55 to 60 days as the asphalt surface at YVRA is replaced. The runway typically is resurfaced about every 10 years.
The project is slated to begin after ski season flights end because the drop off in typical air traffic will mean the fewest flights are affected, Ruppel said. During the past shoulder season, there was only one flight to Denver per day from YVRA. Traditionally, Ruppel said, there had been two flights out of YVRA per day during the same time period.
More asphalt work will be done at the airport in addition to the runway resurfacing, but the runway will only be closed for its portion of the project. The project cost is about $16 million for resurfacing the runway, the connector taxiways and a portion of the aircraft parking apron plus construction of a new vehicle service road, according to Ruppel. The runway project accounts for about $10 million of the total cost, he wrote in an email, adding that more detail will be available after the project is through initial planning.
Strategies for mitigating the impact from the runway closure were considered, Ruppel said.
When the Eagle County Airport resurfaced its runway, it used a taxiway as a runway.
That is not possible with the configuration of YVRA, Ruppel said, and the FAA said it would not approve such a use at the airport. Doing the work only at night or in sections also was considered but would increase the cost of the project exponentially, Ruppel said.
The project is largely paid for by FAA money that is planned for far in advance in the airport’s capital improvement budget, Ruppel said.
It’s not like paving a road, he said, it’s significantly more complicated.
Ruppel said working around Steamboat Springs School District’s spring break in April has been considered.
“It depends on whether that delay would cause greater impact on the other end in June when the number of flights and level of activity increase significantly,” he wrote in an email. “We will try to make that work if we can.”
Ruppel said the airport communicates regularly with the airlines that use it about capital improvements, and airlines were notified that the runway project would go forward when the airport received funding.
The fixed-base operator at YVRA, Galaxy Aviation, would like to see the airport stay open, said Regional Manager Don Kaplan. Galaxy handles private air traffic at the airport and provides fuel service.
“We desperately want to keeping paying all of our employees even if we’re closed down,” Kaplan said, noting the closure would be costly for the operator.
He said he has another meeting with YVRA officials to work out details of the closure.
Yampa Valley Regional Airport also is in the process of updating its master plan. A public tour of the airport will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Sept. 18.