Pilots and passengers may notice a difference during landings and takeoffs when a project at West Bend Municipal Airport is completed later this year.
Staff and contractors are preparing upgrades for a runway. The project will cost about $1.5 million, as contractors repave and replace lights on the runway and repair a parallel taxiway.
City Planner Mark Piotrowicz said funding comes from a variety of sources, including state and federal entities, but also from funds allocated by the Common Council. About $80,000 will be paid by local taxpayers.
“The Council had approved this and borrowed our local portion last year already, so the funding exists,” Piotrowicz said. “It was part of the capital expenditure for last year.”
“The airport has a lot of traffic,” said Mike Shaw, airport manager. “There are anywhere between 40,000-60,000 takeoffs and landings each year. It is a mix of corporate aircraft and general aviation who use it for personal use. There is also the National Guard (which) uses it.”
Normal wear and tear has occurred with that level of traffic and the project addresses the issue. Neither Piotrowicz nor Shaw can remember the previous time the runway was repaved and Shaw said it is 10 years overdue.
Construction will begin at the end of March, but most of the work will be done in May.
Contractors from Payne & Dolan Inc. will pulverize it and add a base for the runway, hauling in approximately 4,600 pounds of stone. Lighting alongside will be replaced with LED bulbs to improve visibility while saving money.
“We have delayed doing it because several different options have been looked at for the airport, but we are getting to the point where we have to (do this project),” Piotrowicz said.
Pilots should also notice improvement when taxiing toward the takeoff and landing area.
“The taxiway adjoining it will have crack repairs,” Piotrowicz said. “They will physically remove the areas that have been segmented and put in new pieces and resurface it.”
Shaw said the airport will not close as crews work on the project, but there is a window of 10 days when the runway will close for up to eight hours each day. Traffic will be directed to an available second runway.
The initiative is part of a series of upgrades for the airport. Other projects include a maintenance area where crews can park vehicles to thaw during winter. City officials also extended the runway, purchasing land from a property owner and clearing obstacles, including trees and structures, to ensure a clear line of sight.
Shaw said the expenditures are justified because the airport is self-funded. It also provides an economic benefit, company personnel use the facility to travel and to ship equipment to and from the area.
Reach reporter Ralph Chapoco at email@example.com.