Airport runway extension project extended

The Santa Maria Public Airport’s runway extension project is being extended.

The project had been scheduled for completion by April 5, but because of delays the full 8,000-foot runway won’t be open to air traffic until May 3, and it won’t be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration until May 31, according to General Manager Chris Hastert.

The airport Board of Directors will get an update when it meets today at 7 p.m. at the airport Administration Building. It will consider a contract amendment with AECOM to push the finish date from Feb. 29 to May 31.

Hastert said the FAA has had several delays in relocating the airport’s navigational aids which has resulted in the deadline extension. Once the Instrument Landing System equipment is placed and flight checked, the FAA will publish its certification.  Those certifications are only published every 56 days, which accounts for the length of the delay. Hastert said the setback is really pretty minor in the long run.  “Overall on a multi-phase project only being held by 56 days isn’t too bad,” he said.

The two-phase project has run into several setbacks since beginning in 2010 including a political wrangling in Washington D.C. that temporarily suspended the Federal Aviation Administration’s operating authority last summer.

The $11 million project has been funded by grants through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program and when legislators suspended the agency’s operating authority, $2.5 billion in airport construction grants were frozen and 150 stop work orders were issued.

That hiccup pushed the anticipated completion of the second phase of the project from October 2010 into 2011.  However once it started, the second phase moved along smoothly with Granite Construction handling the paving portion of the extension. Relocating the electronics has caused the delay.

Hastert said the airport is shooting for a grand opening celebration in early May.

The board will also consider a 9-month extension of the contract held by CJJ Farming, which leases approximately 114 acres of airport land near Highway 135 and Skyway Drive. The company has been farming the land since 2000.

By Brian Bullock / Staff Writer / Santa Maria Times | Posted: Thursday, March 22, 2012

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