Sunday, October 20, 2013

Airport drainage fix discussed: Price County (KPBH), Phillips, Wisconsin

At the Wednesday, Oct. 9 meeting of the Transportation and Highway Committee, Price County Airport Manager Brian Ernst discussed a change in plans to correct a drainage problem on the airport’s south end.

An infiltration basin designed to collect runoff and drain within 24 to 48 hours was modified in the process of removing materials from the area to provide base material for a hangar space. It had been assumed that the depression would continue to drain as it had previously, but after the work was completed, the depression began collecting water much like a pond, only evaporating very slowly, as Ernst explained.

As a temporary fix, Ernst has been running a pump to keep the water level down whenever he’s at the airport, he said.  

The geese that had been congregating there seem to have moved on, in Ernst’s observations.

He reported that he had been creating noise to scare away the geese, which present a potential strike danger at airports.

Rather than move forward with the original plan of putting a new drainage point in the nearby city storm sewer, it looks like construction contractors will be recontouring the ground and pulling the topsoil back. Corrective steps are set to take place in the week ahead, Ernst reported.

The initial estimate for that work came in at $11,500 and should be factored into the total cost of the current Airport Improvement Project through a change order.

Ernst said that he approached the Bureau of Aeronautics about the matter, feeling that it seemed like an engineering mistake and that someone should be held at least somewhat accountable for the extra expense.

The response from the Bureau was that there are things that can’t be foreseen when moving forward with such projects, according to Ernst, who noted that this kind of issue is something of “an odd duck,” and hasn’t come up in a lot of similar projects.

Since the topsoil seems to be acting like a seal for the basin, Ernst said that he’s going to request it be left off once it’s removed.

Committee member and Price County Supervisor Jim Hintz suggested that the simplest fix might be creating a French drain about the size of the table they were gathered around with layers of easily infiltrated materials like sand and rock.

Construction aspects of the Airport Improvement Project (AIP) have come to a standstill in order to give subgrade and soft spots on surfaces a chance to firm up.

The electrical contractor is still working at the airport off and on, Ernst said.

Tree clearing work on properties where easements have been successfully negotiated is set to go ahead in November, according to Ernst.

The overall project contractor will likely get estimates from other contractors and if figures look good, tree clearing will be handled through a change order without putting the work out for a separate bid, as Ernst explained.

For the stretch of land along Elk Lake Drive, an arborist is working with the city to establish a report on how the cutting will need to be done in order to be in line with a municipal tree ordinance.

Negotiations for an easement continue on parcel 39. The owners have decided to seek out their own appraisal to compare with the one that came in from Bureau negotiators, as Ernst explained.

He said that officially time probably ran out for the second appraisal, though the Bureau appears to be making an exception to try and work through the deal with the property owners without having to resort to condemnation in the courts.

Ernst reported that he hasn’t been able to get a drop-dead date from the Bureau in regards to when the negotiation has to be settled.

Committee Chairman Larry Palecek said that sooner or later, they need to stop delaying the inevitable and settle the matter.

Ernst discussed major topics coming out of the dialogue at an airport and land use seminar he had attended along with the airport operations technician in the end of September. One big topic centered on the arrival of visits to assess potential wildlife dangers at airports in 2015. Airports where potential wildlife interactions are identified will be required to individually bring in biologists and work out a plan for mitigating hazards. For the sake of not only cost savings but efficiency and consistency, Ernst and other airport managers are trying to get the Bureau on board with a statewide program to supply expert guidance rather than leaving it up to airports to find it.

Committee members gave the okay for the airport to bring back the air show and fly-in event held each 4th of July weekend so long as Harbor View is on board with it and again co-sponsoring it.

In business items, committee members approved renewing the five-year lease on Marquip’s hangar space and changing the name on the lease to 4 Seasons Community Development LLC, which is managing the rental agreement for the corporation.

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