Airport runway refurbishment project takes off

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News

By Barb McKay

A $2 million project to improve Kincardine’s runway and taxiways was given the green light from the Municipality of Kincardine council last week with a goal to complete it in time for Canada’s 150th celebrations.

Upgrades to the municipal airport’s aging main runway, in particular, have been a long time coming. Recommendations to rehabilitate runway 13-31 came from a report from engineers and consultants of Genivar back in 2013. Consultants urged the municipality to deal with the runway in 2014, and attached a cost of $1 million to the project.

Electrical systems at the airport are now 30 years old and need to be replaced, Kincardine CAO Murray Clarke pointed out. Engineers from WSP were supposed to attend last Wednesday’s meeting to give the presentation to council, but could not make it due to the closure of Highway 21, leaving Clarke to present the report on their behalf. WSP found that faults have begun to occur in the circuits and snow plows have damaged lights along the edge of the main runway.

In August, council gave pre-budget approval to the refurbishment of the main runway, which included replacing the edge lighting. Since then, engineers from WSP are recommending that the scope of the project be expanded to include extending one of the taxiways – Charlie – to connect it with the secondary runway, completing electrical upgrades (including improvements to Alpha and Bravo taxiways), installing new edge lighting on taxiway Charlie, installing pavement overlay on the taxiways, install a new apron and improve the abbreviated precision approach path indicator. The total cost to complete the work is budgeted at $2.19 million.

Clarke said additional elements of the project will need to be completed in the future and it is logical to do all the work at the same time. He noted that the local chapter of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) supports connecting taxiway Charlie to the runway and he and representatives from WSP will be meeting with members and other local pilots to discuss the expanded project.

The airport rehabilitation would not be taxpayer funded since there is just enough money ($2.2 million) in the Armow Wind airport fund and Armow Wind community benefit fund to complete all the work.

The preliminary design work for the airport improvements is complete and a fairly aggressive schedule has been set to complete the work in time for the civic holiday weekend in August. Clarke said COPA would like to celebrate the completion with an event, perhaps an air show. He recommends that the request for tenders go out in January, with a deadline to award contracts in February. Construction would be expected to begin in late May.

Councillor Laura Haight said she didn’t see the urgency of approving the expanded project that night.

“I’m not sure what we’d be doing in January or February, in the dead of winter.”

Clarke replied that it takes a significant amount of time to acquire the equipment and materials to complete the work.

“The timeline is actually very sensitive,” he said.

Haight said she recognized the need to refurbish the runway but she has real concerns with the fact that council was being asked to use two years’ worth (2016 and 2017) of the community benefit fund for the project ahead of budget discussions.

“Just so you’re clear,” she said to her fellow council members, “we are accepting this ahead of anything else you may want, like the tennis court refurbishment. But I certainly support the runway (rehabilitation) itself.”

Councillor Maureen Couture noted that the next council meeting is not until Jan. 11, so if council did not approve the project it would impact the timeline.

“I’m a little disappointed about using two years of the community fund, but I can see the need,” she said.

 

Councillor Andrew White pointed out that council would still have to approve the tenders and so could reconsider elements of the project, like the apron, later on.