Aircraft sit outside the main terminal, now used by Rite Bros. Aviation, at William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Aircraft sit outside the main terminal, now used by Rite Bros. Aviation, at William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles on Wednesday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Field tests for resurfacing Fairchild Airport runway to begin next week

PORT ANGELES — Port officials have completed a four-year update of the William R. Fairchild International Airport master plan and hired a consultant to begin field tests for resurfacing of the main runway.

Port of Port Angeles commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to accept the 2019 airport master plan update and an airport layout that includes the full 6,347 feet of Runway 08/26.

“It was worth every minute of the extra time spent to more or less stick our heels in the ground and make sure that we are able to keep the entire 6,347 feet of our runway,” Port Airport Manager Dan Gase told commissioners.

Commissioners Connie Beauvais, Steve Burke and Colleen McAleer also voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a not-to-exceed $97,877 professional services agreement with Century West Engineering for preliminary field work and design for a 2022 project to resurface the main runway at the airport in west Port Angeles.

The field work is scheduled to begin Monday.

“We’ll have to fund the entire $97,000 upon completion, and then we’ll get $89,214 of that reimbursed from the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] through the grant that we anticipate getting after the first of the year,” Gase said.

The 6,347-foot long main runway at William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles, known officially as 8/26, is shown in this July 2011 file photo. The heavily-forested Lincoln Park with its athletic fields is shown at bottom. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

The 6,347-foot long main runway at William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles, known officially as 8/26, is shown in this July 2011 file photo. The heavily-forested Lincoln Park with its athletic fields is shown at bottom. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Working with the FAA and engineering consultants Reid Middleton and Mead & Hunt, port officials began the update to the William R. Fairchild International Airport master plan in 2015.

Airport master plans are typically approved within one year, Gase said.

“The additional time was needed to strategically seek a way to maintain the full runway length of our primary Runway 08/26,” Gase said in a memo.

“The FAA had reanalyzed the aircraft usage of the airport and determined that they would only provide funding for the upcoming 2022 rehabilitation project to a runway length of 3,850 feet.

“This decrease in runway length was not a palatable option to the port or for our community,” Gase added, “and a multi-layered plan, which included an Act of Congress, was placed in motion to negate this FAA decision.”

The FAA has now agreed to fund the rehabilitation of 5,000 feet of the 150-foot-wide runway, provided the rehabilitation involves a resurfacing rather than a full reconstruction.

“The FAA says that if it’s that bad that they have to do a full reconstruction, they’re not going to fund their portion of 5,000 feet, but only their portion of 3,850 feet,” Gase told port commissioners Tuesday.

“The consultants are pretty confident already that we won’t have a problem with that, but we do have to prove it to them. So that’s what this next item is, the request for approval of the Century West professional services agreement.”

Century West will document the existing runway condition, conduct surveys and geotechnical work and prepare documents to prove to that the runway is qualified for a rehab, Gase said.

Century West was selected as the most qualified of five consultants that applied, Gase said.

Dan Gase, Port of Port Angeles airport manager, speaks at the port commissioners’ meeting Tuesday. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

Dan Gase, Port of Port Angeles airport manager, speaks at the port commissioners’ meeting Tuesday. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

Meanwhile, the port continues to seek other funding sources to rehabilitate the full length of the runway.

Gase said the port overcame “numerous obstacles” to incorporate the full 6,347-foot length of the runway into its master plan.

FAA officials approved the William R. Fairchild International Airport master plan update and airport layout plan Oct. 2, Gase said.

“This was not a small project to enter into when the FAA has such requirements that have to be followed for the consultant to do,” Beauvais said.

“It’s very pricey, but I know that we drug our feet as the plane was taking off, so to speak, in order to try to get enough proof for the runway length, and then going to Washington [D.C.] to try to make that happen.”

Beauvais said port staff and Rite Bros. Aviation helped document how many planes use the airport to secure FAA funding.

The FAA covered $596,913 — or 90 percent — of the $663,237 total cost of the airport master plan.

The state Department of Transportation’s aviation division and the Port of Port Angeles each pitched in $33,162, or 5 percent.

“You did a very nice nice job of taking this through the process, Dan,” McAleer told Gase.

“Now that this will be off your plate, you can move into ensuring that your other priority, self-imposed priority, of getting [scheduled] air service back to our community, you can focus on that now.”

“Full speed ahead,” Gase said. “Absolutely.”

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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