Soldotna Airport to get facelift

Aging asphalt covering the Soldotna Airport’s taxiways will get some much needed attention through an upcoming rehabilitation project.

The Soldotna City Council passed an ordinance at its Wednesday meeting to appropriate about $6.9 million for the city’s 2016 Airport Asphalt Rehabilitation and Lighting Project. More than $6.4 million of that comes in the form of a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program.

Rehabilitation of pavement at the airport has been identified as necessary and was included in a draft of the city’s Five Year Capital Plan presented to the council in April.

Using a Pavement Condition Index to evaluate the level of distress in the airport pavement, Airport Manager and City Engineer Kyle Kornelis said the city has prioritized which sections of pavement at the airport are in need of rehabilitation or replacement, as well as when that ideally should happen.

“We’ve got an age of the pavement and a lot of that is over 30 years old,” Kornelis said.

Taxiways A and B at the airport will be rehabilitated under the project, as will the airport’s central and east aprons according to a memo from City Manager Mark Dixson to the council. The project will also involve replacing taxiway edge lighting and some work on storm drains, Kornelis said at Wednesday’s meeting.

The FAA grant, like many grants, works by reimbursing the city after it appropriates and spends the money for the project, Kornelis said. The reimbursable federal grant will cover up to 93.75 percent of the project’s cost, and the remaining 6.25 percent local match will come from the airport fund, he said. The ordinance passed Wednesday also appropriated $431,636 from the airport fund for the project.

“We were able to consolidate a number of phased asphalt rehab projects into this one grant,” Kornelis said. “We were fortunate to receive a fairly large grant.”

The council also passed at its Wednesday meeting a resolution to let Dixson enter into a contract with Quality Asphalt Paving for almost $5.4 million for project construction. The city received four bids for the rehabilitation project, and Quality Asphalt Paving was the lowest bidder, according to the resolution.

Council member Tim Cashman asked at the meeting why there was a difference between the contract amount and the amount of money being appropriated for the project as a whole, which Kornelis explained is because the total appropriation includes a 15 percent contingency included in the FAA grant as well as costs for design, utility relocation and administrative fees associated with the project.

The actual construction should only cost the approximately $5.4 million accounted for in the contract with Quality Asphalt Paving, he said.

“This grant that we’ve gotten from the FAA … is the result of the relationship that Mr. Kornelis has developed with the FAA,” Dixson said at the meeting. “A lot of this is because they trust the work that we do down here because of Mr. Kornelis’s leadership…”

The project is in line with the airport’s master plan, Kornelis said, which takes into consideration things like existing airport usage and maintenance priorities as well as development concepts.

The city council also passed an ordinance in September accepting another FAA grant for almost $469,000 with a local match of $31,250 from the airport fund for the city to buy a front end loader and snow blower attachment for snow removal at the airport. The grant through the Airport Improvement Program stipulates that the snow removal equipment be used specifically on the airport for 10 years, but that it can be used city-wide from that point on, Kornelis said.

“Things are on track,” he said.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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