PORT TOWNSEND — A six-week project to reconstruct the runway at Jefferson County International Airport is scheduled to begin May 4.
The $5.2 million renovation, paid for with a 90 percent grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and a 10 percent match from the state Department of Transportation, is expected to shut down the runway through mid-June.
But commissioners from the Port of Port Townsend have authorized a bonus of $3,000 per day if the contractor, Scarsella Brothers Inc. of Kent, can finish the project in less than 42 days.
“It’s a little dependent on the weather, but hopefully we’ll get a nice dry spring,” said Shannon Kinsella, the airport and waterfront group director for engineering firm Reid Middleton of Everett.
Port officials met with a group of about 20 pilots Wednesday night to describe the project details and provide the timeline of events.
Mike Wilson, a project manager for Scarsella Brothers, said his crew is planning to work 10-hour days, six days per week.
The crew will take Sundays off, Kinsella said.
“That will give them time to at least catch their breath and then get right back to it,” she said. “They want to work quickly and efficiently while meeting quality-control standards.”
Lakeside Industries of Port Angeles will pave the runway, Wilson said.
Before that occurs, about 8,000 yards of material will need to be removed, and the runway will see improvements with grading and storm drainage, he said.
Port Deputy Director Eric Toews said there may be a way to keep the material on the site, which could expedite the completion of the project.
Additional work will include a relocated and reconstructed taxiway connector, the installation of new signage and pavement markings, and the reconstruction of runway lights to include LEDs, Executive Director Jim Pivarnik said in a pilots meeting last summer.
The port will pay 5 percent of a smaller project for a connector taxiway, about $5,000 toward a $100,000 concept, Pivarnik said.
The runway closure will shut down any flights to and from the airport, although Toews said he anticipates helicopters will still be able to use the grass landing area for medical flights.
The FAA requires a 20-year lifespan of the pavement, including maintenance for which the port will be responsible, Toews said.
The current runway has clay underneath that will be excavated and replaced with a layer of crushed rock, Wilson said.
“With a proper sub-base, I would expect this to be more durable,” Toews said.
Construction should be complete by mid-June, although a second coat of pavement markings likely will shut down airport operations for two days in September, he said.
Several pilots were concerned about keeping up to date with the progress and if the FAA would allow the runway to reopen if the project is finished ahead of schedule.
“We will be working closely with the FAA district office, and they’ll have to do a flight check of their equipment that comes back on board after construction,” Kinsella said. “They only have one plane that does flight checks in this area that I’m aware of, so we’ll need to keep in touch with them.”
Other businesses, including the Port Townsend Aero Museum and the Spruce Goose Cafe, will remain open during construction, Pivarnik said.
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].