Airport panel gets update on runway projects

NEW ULM – The Airport Advisory Commission received an update Tuesday on the status of the Primary Runway Reconstruction Project as well as the Taxiway Reconstruction Project and the relocated Crosswind Runway Development.

Bryan Page of Mead & Hunt consulting firm answered questions on the projects.

Commission Chair Thomas Berg asked Page to explain the mounds of earth accumulating near the airport.

Page said the project involved the reconstruction of the parallel taxiway to primary runway. Currently the project is in the first phase of development in which the north end of the airport is being rehabilitated and grading work is involved. The dirt mounds are stockpiles that will be used in various locations. Each mound has a height limitation and zoning limitation for safety purposes.

The project began in May, but it has been delayed by rain, with a total of 30 work days. Page estimated that this first phase could be completed by early July if the weather cooperates. The south section of the taxiway will be shutdown as part of the second phase of the project, which is estimated to be completed by late August or early September.

In March, the Airport Board agreed to move forward with the Crosswind Runway development, recommending a relocation of the current crosswind runway. The relocation was deemed necessary because residential development in the Sarah Hills subdivision is encroaching the airport and could result in future land-use issues.

Mead & Hunt has been in contact with the FAA and Minnesota Department of Transportation to determine the level effort and type of work activities. The planning and environmental work for the site was conducted approximately 10 years ago and would likely need to be updated and re-examined. In addition the committee may need to look for alternative layouts.

City Engineer Steve Koehler explained that this situation did not mean any changes were being made to the plan, but the plans needed to be revisited to explain to the FAA why the runway needed to be relocated. Recently a staff changeover occurred at the FAA and the project needs to be re-sold to the new administrators.

The FAA does not have any extra money for the project this year, but Page is optimistic MnDOT will be able to provide funding at the end of 2014.

Koehler said the old crosswind runway can still be used until the State requires re-zoning.

Electrical updates

In other business, the Commission approved a proposal to construct a new underground electrical power feed to hangars six, seven and eight. The electrical building near the maintenance hangar feeds electricity to the three hangars. During the past winter the underground feed to hangar eight failed. A temporary overhead hangar was installed, but Koehler requested a new underground feeder for safety purposes.

Awards

Koehler announced the City of New Ulm received the 2013 Project of the Year Award for Intermediate Airports from the Minnesota Council of Airports (MCOA). New Ulm also received the Governor’s Award from the FAA and MCOA. Koehler said the Governor’s award is not given every year and it is major recognition.

Page said that it was unusual for a community to receive both awards in a single year.

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