ST. GEORGE — While the four-month closure of the St. George Regional Airport for runway repair is still on track for 2019, airport officials have delayed the starting date of the closure by one month.
Originally scheduled for closure from late April through August, the airport will now be closed to all flights from May 29-Sept. 26, 2019, for the runway repair and replacement project.
St. George Support Services Director Marc Mortensen told St. George News that the time frame was shifted at the request of the air service provider, St. George-based SkyWest Airlines. The new date range will allow flights to continue through the Memorial Day weekend.
The airport’s runway has experienced extensive water damage in the years since it started operation in 2011. Approximately 7,000 feet of runway will be need to be removed and replaced.
The project is anticipated to cost approximately $26-27 million. About 91 percent of the cost of the project will be paid for through a grant provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, a portion of which was allocated to the project last week.
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced Thursday $205 million in supplemental funding for infrastructure grants to small airports in 34 states, $11.1 million of which will go to St. George Regional Airport.
The money is the first increment of supplemental funding grants that will go to projects at 37 airports, primarily for those serving rural communities, according to a press release issued by the FAA. These projects include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation and maintenance of taxiways, aprons and terminals.
The funding is part of a larger goal of Chao’s to strengthen the safety and efficiency of the country’s airports, a goal that is in line with SkyWest’s hopes for the planned repairs at St. George Regional Airport.
In a statement to St. George News, SkyWest spokesman Layne Watson said the airline supports the airport’s efforts to improve the runway and maintain a safe operating environment.
Part of the airport’s planned improvements includes rebuilding the runway in a way that avoids future water damage. A water barrier will be installed over the entire 7,000 feet of replaced runway after the contractor excavates 17 feet down to remove blue clay.
According to the city of St. George, which owns the airport, the runway was originally built to FAA design specifications but has nonetheless required constant patching due to the water damage.
A stipulation of the FAA grant requires the city to certify that adequate supervision and inspection of the project is arranged in order to ensure construction conforms to approved plans and specifications.
The city has already secured a contractor to perform the runway replacement. During the airport’s closure, there are also plans to upgrade facilities inside the terminal and expand the parking area.
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