Aspen airport gearing up for closure

John ColsonAspen, CO Colorado

PITKIN COUNTY Construction equipment will roll onto the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport grounds in less than a week in preparation for the airport’s two-month closure to all air traffic.The airport will be closed from April 9 through June 7 for resurfacing of the runways and the addition of paved runway shoulder areas, replacement of a culvert that carries Owl Creek underneath the runway, resealing of aircraft parking areas for both private and commercial planes, refurbishment work inside the terminal, and restriping and resealing of the public parking lot.According to a statement from Pitkin County, crews will begin moving equipment to the airport March 18, at which time Owl Creek Trail will be periodically impacted.Work at the airport has been ongoing throughout the winter. According to Pitkin County, earthmovers have been performing prep work for an on-site asphalt batch plant. The plant, intended to minimize truck traffic associated with the project, is scheduled to be erected April 1.Crews will work seven days a week in order to meet the county’s tight construction schedule, which calls for the airport to reopen just before the first big event of the 2007 summer season, the Food & Wine Classic, which begins June 15.The project is estimated to cost approximately $13 million, according to Dave Ulane, assistant aviation director at the airport. The Federal Aviation Administration is funding just in excess of $12 million for the runways and aircraft parking areas; Pitkin County is paying about $800,000 for painting, minor construction in the terminal building and work on the public parking lot. The car rental counters inside the terminal building are also being spruced up, but the car rental companies are covering those costs.John Colson’s e-mail address is