POTSDAM – The runway and taxiways at Damon Field, the Potsdam Municipal Airport are closed through the projected end date of July 13 for widening the airport’s runway.
“That date was decided at a pre-construction meeting two weeks ago, but completion is somewhat dependent on the weather,” said airport manager Brad Clements.
The contract for the work on the village-owned airport was awarded to local building company J.E. Sheehan Contracting, which will widen the runway from its current 60 feet to 75 feet under the exacting specifications of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Sheehan got a jump on the work while the weather was good in November, doing things such as regrading some soil in preparation for the major work in warmer weather.
The $1.4 million job includes the runway widening and refinishing, maintenance of runway lighting, and installation of a visual guidance system.
The Federal Aviation Administration is paying 90 percent of the cost, and the state and the village are splitting the remaining 10 percent.
While fixed-wing aircraft will not be able to use the runway, some helicopter traffic at the airport will be permitted since they do not need to use the runway.
And Air Methods’ LifeNet medical transport service, based at Damon Field, has moved its operations temporarily to Massena’s Richards Field, since it has replaced its helicopter service with fixed-wing aircraft that can’t fly in and out of Potsdam’s airport for the time being, but they have told Clements that they might make helicopter flights to and from Potsdam. Also Mercy Flight might make use of the airport for their helicopters, Clements said.
And the operator of the UPS cargo flights that use the airport to deliver to the shipping company’s nearby facility will use other nearby airports while the runway work is done.
The runway widening is being done due to safety considerations, Clements said.
Twice in the last seven or eight years, pilots flying twin-engine Embraer aircraft for Ameriflight, the contractor operating planes that make deliveries and pickups for the nearby UPS facility, have gone off the side of the runway in slippery conditions.
No serious damage and no injury was reported in either incident, but the chief pilot of the air charter company told Clements he has a limited number of pilots he can allow to come to Potsdam because of the currently narrow runway.
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