Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sloulin Field International (KISN), Williston, North Dakota: Airport manager asks for taxiway repairs

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — The manager of the Williston airport says repairs are needed on the facility's primary taxiway.  Steve Kjergaard says the aging taxiway is not likely to survive the winter, which could mean an hour delay on every flight in and out of Williston if the access road to the runway is closed.

Kjergaard tells the Williston Herald that the repairs would cost about $175,000. He says the work would have to be completed by October.  Williston saw a 35 percent increase in the number of passengers in the last year.

Asphalt problems could derail airport 

Sometimes it takes asphalt for a city to rally behind a dedicated airport manager.

Steven Kjergaard made an impassioned plea before the Williston City Commission on Tuesday for much-needed repairs to the primary taxiway at Sloulin Field International Airport.

“It’s not going to survive another winter without causing major issues,” Kjergaard told the mayor and commissioners. “If we have to close this taxiway, we’re talking probably at least an hour delay on every plane in and out of the Williston airport during a busy day, which is somewhere around 50 aircraft.”

The aging taxiway, one of seven, was due for replacement during the 2010-11 grant season. However, the runway needed rehabbing, Kjergaard said Thursday, dashing hopes of renewal and meeting Federal Aviation Administration standards. With the recent rains, a five-foot-by-200-foot section of the 6,600-foot-long taxiway has been severely compromised, requiring a vigilant airport staff to closely monitor it for additional cracking and degradation.

From May 30 through June 12, Williston saw 3.42 inches of rain, said National Weather Service Community Liaison James Assid.

“So far we are .58 inches above normal for the month [of June] and 3.91 inches above normal for the year, which is pretty significant,” he said.

The taxiway’s asphalt surface has a sub-base (a crushed gravel mixture) that creates a funnel for water to go down, and with all the rain in the last couple of weeks it allowed the water to get in and quickly degrade the sub-base, Kjergaard said.

“There happens to be a crack there because it’s a joint between two paving sections, and water has gotten through and just started to degrade the sub-base underneath,” he added.

An important piece of taxiway pavement, it travels parallel to the runway and allows aircraft to taxi out to or in from the runway without needing to taxi on the runway, according to Kjergaard.

If there is another aircraft inbound, there can be delays if there are aircraft on the runway and other aircraft are coming in. You can’t have two aircraft on the same runway, he said, so delays may occur for arriving aircraft.

Despite the deterioration, Kjergaard said the taxiway is safe and useable, however, on Tuesday he urged the commission to address the issue before winter, when the freeze-thaw cycles begin.

In an interview with the Williston Herald on Thursday, he said if the work is not done by October and he and the airport staff see more cracking and weakening, that section of taxiway will be closed, thereby causing delays.

The estimated price tag for the work: $175,000. Unfortunately, the end of the FAA’s grant cycle is now, and the state has already done its grants, Kjergaard said, adding that they could move forward with the repairs and apply later for at least half of the cost.

After Kjergaard made his pitch for the ailing taxiway Tuesday evening, he turned to City Attorney Peter Furuseth and asked whether the project could be bid out or if this was an emergency situation.

With a quick, calm response, Furuseth asked Kjergaard for a “little time” to figure things out and assured him a special meeting within a week or so would address his request.

“I’ll have an answer for you then,” Furuseth said.

Source:  http://www.willistonherald.com

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