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BE OKs airport runway

By Staff | May 22, 2011

It’s a go.

After years of debate and several changes in plans, the runway at the Blue Earth Airport is going to be reconstructed later this summer.

And, it will be constructed of concrete; not a bituminous surface.

The Blue Earth City Council has had some heated discussions and split votes concerning the runway in the past, but at Monday’s regular council meeting the vote was unanimous to proceed.

Ron Roetzel of Bolton and Menk engineers presented a list of bid options for the various phases of the project.

The council voted to accept the bid of $2,627,300 for the concrete runway and the extension of the apron area.

Although the bids for putting a bituminous surface on the runway were slightly less than for concrete, the council opted for the option.

Roetzel presented comparisons of bituminous versus concrete over the life of the runway. Those figures show concrete to actually be the lesser expensive of the two choices over the long run.

Roetzel reminded the council the runway will not be extended, and will remain 3,400 feet long.

With all of the expenses of the project included, the cost will be $2.85 million, Roetzel says, still far less than the original estimate of $3.9 million.

This 2011 phase of the project continues the work begun last year. That part of the project included construction of a parallel taxiway, which runs alongside the runway.

The new taxiway will be used as a temporary runway while the work is being done.

When the two phases of the project, for 2010 and 2011 are combined, the overall cost will total $5.73 million, far below the original budget of $7.3 million.

Most of the project is being paid by federal aviation gas funding.

The city’s share is $323,000, down from the original estimate of $392,000.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey says the local cost will be included in a bond, and paid by revenues from the airport.

None of the cost will be coming out of the general fund, she adds.

The vote to proceed with the airport runway reconstruction was unanimous.