PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County International Airport runway is open to all aircraft after a nearly $4 million rehabilitation project was completed.
Jefferson County International Airport (JCIA) officially re-opened its runway at 8 p.m. June 25 after nearly six weeks of construction and redesign.
The runway had been closed to fixed-wing aircraft for the past six weeks.
“It’s an entirely redesigned and reconstructed runway built to the updated FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) specifications,” said Eric Toews, Port of Port Townsend deputy director.
The runway was revamped from a “shed slope” design for water drainage to a crown-like configuration. The entire sub-base of the runway was reconstructed. It received new asphalt and pavement configuration, and the area that connects the taxiway to the runway was relocated to make it consistent with the FAA specifications.
The project was largely funded with federal dollars.
“It’s almost entirely through federal money, FAA monies,” Toews said. “The port was successful in obtaining a supplemental airport improvement program appropriation to fund 100 percent of the runway reconstruction itself.”
He said the center taxiway connector was funded under a standard airport improvement program grant at 90 percent, with 5 percent being from the state Department of Transportation aviation division and 5 percent matched by the port.
Port Commissioner Pete Hanke was the first pilot to land and take off from the newly redesigned runway.
Hanke landed his Beechcraft Bonanza — a six-seat single-engine aircraft — at 8 p.m. June 25, marking the official reopening of the runway, and he took off from the runway about 20 minutes later.
“To be honest, there really isn’t any difference [landing on the new runway]. You really don’t notice it at all,” Hanke said. “I’ve been watching the flight school students landing on it today, and I asked them, ‘How do you think it’s working?’ and they said, ‘I think it’s great.’ ”
“It’s really nice to have it done,” Hanke said.
He added he was waiting at Diamond Point Airport near Sequim at 8 p.m. on the night the FAA approved the runway.
“The FAA cleared it, and I was already in the air, so I was able to land minutes after the FAA actually officially opened the runway,” he said.
Hanke took Toews and some of the contractors for the project in his plane to get a look at the new runway from above and to take some photographs.
The port has several other projects coming in the next few years. They include a new terminal facility with restroom facilities for visiting pilots, a second taxiway connector and an additional taxiway.
“Ultimately, to meet the update FAA specifications, probably within the next three to five years, we’ll be looking at designing and ultimately construction of a relocated taxiway that would be shifted a bit to the north to ensure greater separation between the taxiway and the runway,” Toews said.
Reporter Ken Park can be reached at [email protected].