Saturday, April 14, 2018

Dangerous runway shut down: Bowers Field Airport (KELN), Ellensburg, Kittitas County, Washington

ELLENSBURG, Wash. - Bowers Airport in Kittitas County has shut down one of their runways because of long term deterioration, now only one remains open.

"You would see all kinds of cracks, fairly large cracks. I mean these cracks are six inches apart, and that's where our weeds were growing through," said Kittitas County Public Works Director Mark Cook.

Cook says the weeds grew so high it got to the point where they needed to start mowing it.

"We actually mowed the runway, and that was my first thought that maybe this runway had some issues," said Cook.

Both of the runways were built in 1943, and the runway they closed down had never been rehabilitated since. Century West Engineering rated their runway, and out of 100 theirs was rated 11.

"They tell me at about 70, people generally start investing on rehabilitation efforts, and that did not occur," said Cook.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreed to pay for reconstruction of one of the runways. Cook says the other runway services about 97 percent of all of their operations, and decided to move forward with improving that runway.

Central Washington University's (CWU) Department of Aviation and other private pilots use the runway, and closure will cause them to share one runway. Vice President of Public Affairs for CWU Kremiere Jackson says the university isn't for the decision.

"The university would prefer that the secondary runway be reconstructed, or ideally we would like it to be brought back up to standards so that the community and Central Washington have the availability of that runway," said Jackson.

The closed runway will take around two million dollars to repair. Cook says they don't was to close the runway permanently, and want are currently searching for funding options. 

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