Second phase of runway project headed out to bid

By Brian Bullock/Staff Writer Santa Maria Times | Posted: Friday, May 13, 2011 12:00 am |

The Santa Maria Public Airport Board of Directors cleared the way Thursday for the second phase of its runway extension project, voting unanimously to put the project out to bid.  Board secretary Ted Eckert was absent from the meeting.

General Manager Chris Hastert will ask for bids May 20, with the opening scheduled for June 20.

The second phase of the $12 million project is estimated to cost approximately $7.76 million and will extend the runway pavement an additional 1,700 feet and relocate navigational aids for the instrument landing system.

Hastert said if everything goes smoothly, construction of the second phase will begin sometime in mid-August. The entire project is expected to be completed and certified by the Federal Aviation Administration by the end of the year.

When it’s complete, the main runway — Runway 12 — will measure 8,004 feet and will be the longest on the Central Coast. The added length will allow the airport to handle larger aircraft and heavier loads, which will benefit both passenger and cargo carriers.

United Airlines and Allegiant Airlines currently utilize the airport. United offers commuter flights to Los Angeles, while Allegiant has three flights a week to Las Vegas.

Hastert said Allegiant is putting a number of Boeing 757s into service on its East Coast flights and is considering adding service from California to Hawaii sometime next year. But he added that the company hasn’t indicated where the Hawaiian flights will originate.

The board also approved a one-day use permit that will allow SkyDive Santa Barbara to use the airport for an event July 9. Hastert told the board the company normally operates from the Lompoc airport, but said once a year a Piper Cub group visits that airport, forcing the company to make other arrangements.  Hastert said both the tower and jet center staff approved of the event.