Does Burley Need a New Airport
December 2, 2013
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  • Burley officials may hire an engineering firm to work on pavement rehabilitation at the airport and develop a master plan exploring whether the city needs a new airport.

    Burley’s Public Works Committee will meet today to discuss the qualifications of five engineering firms that applied.

    The airport pavement is a normal maintenance issue, said City Councilman Casey Andersen, a member of the Public Works Committee.

    “It’s just something that we have to deal with every so many years,” Andersen said.

    The master plan, though, will look at all facets of the city’s airport to determine whether it needs to be moved.

    After reviewing each firm’s qualifications, the committee will recommend a company to the City Council. The city will review the scope of the potential projects, get a cost estimate for the services, and then will apply for a Federal Aviation Administration grant to help pay for the engineer.

    Burley Administrator Mark Mitton said the master plan will look at all alternatives, including taking no action, and the engineer then will make a recommendation to the city.

    If the recommendation is to move the airport, a new one would take seven years to build, Mitton said.

    Such a move would require acquiring the land and conducting environmental studies, which could take up to two years.

    If the city builds a new airport, the FAA likely would pay a large portion of the costs, depending on the site, Mitton said. The FAA pays more costs for a general aviation airport, such as Burley’s, than for a commercial airport, he said.

    Mitton said the city has provided an airport to Mini-Cassia residents for decades. The city grew up around the airport, leaving it constrained by the Snake River, Idaho 30 and railroad tracks.

    “The city’s airport needs to be moved because it is not safe,” he said. “It’s not safe because there are no safety areas off the runway. There is just no way to make it safe.”

    The city of Burley has been trying to find a site for a new airport since the late 1990s but has run into multiple land use issues.

    Now two sites are being considered: one next to Interstate 84 and 1250 E. Road, and the other adjacent to West Baseline Road and 950 W. Road. Most of the other sites under scrutiny were discarded because they included prime agricultural land.

    A site study due by year’s end will evaluate the locations and provide cost estimates for a new airport at each.

    Mitton said the project requires more than a linear mile to accommodate the airport’s east–west layout.

    “It’s not so much how many acres are available, but the shape of the property, that’s most important,” he said.