Projects take flight at airport

Written by Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer October 12, 2011 07:32 pm
Improvements include reconstruction of apron at tanker base; runway extension; construction of airport safety area The La Grande-Union County Airport is a busy place this fall, as construction crews work on three key improvement projects.

At the U.S. Forest Service air tanker base, the apron area is being reconstructed, and also, Union County has begun a project to extend a runway and create an airport safety zone.

“The local airport is an asset we need to take care of,” said Union County Commissioner Steve McClure. “We are pleased to begin work on these projects.”

Earlier this year, Union County did emergency repairs on the tanker base apron area, and the Forest Service was able to use the base for the fire season.

On Sept. 26, the base was closed and work began on repairs. If fall weather cooperates, contractor High Desert Aggregate plans to complete the project by the end of November.

Otherwise, the project is scheduled to be finished by June 2012 so the base can open for the season.

In the other projects, Union County has contracted with Moffit Bros. Construction from Lostine, and Kerr Contractors, Inc., from Woodburn to extend Runway 12-30 an additional 660 feet and create a 660-foot airport safety zone.

The projects are considered to be separate, though they are being paid for by a single $4.5 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration.

 Precision Approach Engineering of Corvallis designed the runway extension and safety zone and is overseeing construction.

Union County Public Works Director Richard Comstock said the safety zone is a grassy area that will afford pilots more room should they overshoot the runway.

The work will bring the airport into compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations. It includes redirecting Gekeler Slough and relocating part of Airport Lane.

Airport Lane is not closed, but Union County said construction equipment is active and trucks are hauling on both Airport Lane and Wass Road. Motorists are urged to be cautious when traveling in the area.