Grant to help airport with taxiway, runway plans
A recent $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will be used to complete a taxiway relocation project and perform an environmental study of a planned runway extension at Aspen-Pitkin County airport, officials said yesterday.In the last year, the airport began a project to increase the distance between the taxiway and the runway from 221 feet to 320 feet. It is part of a taxiway renovation project implemented to bring the airport in line with Federal Aviation Administration standards for aircraft with wingspans of 95 feet. Many such jets land at the airport, like the United Express BA146 aircraft.”With the assistance of these grant dollars, we plan to finish the taxiway relocation by next summer,” Airport Director Jim Elwood said.Federal and state transportation agencies are paying for all but approximately 2 percent of the estimated $35 million cost of the relocation project. The project is part of a $53 million capital improvement plan.”We are expecting some more grants by the end of the year,” Elwood said.Separately, the $10 million grant will help airport officials complete a lengthy study of the impacts on both the environment and neighborhoods surrounding a possible extension to the existing runway. The runway extension is part of a recently completed airport master plan.The study, termed an environmental assessment [EA], is half complete. Officials have been waiting for funding for its completion. “We didn’t want to determine the full focus of the EA until we took public comments,” Elwood said. “This money will help fund the next phase of the EA, which incorporates feedback we’ve received from the community.”The second portion of the EA will focus mostly on further investigation into the noise impacts of a runway extension. Several airport neighbors, including Airport Business Center residents and advocates of Burlingame Housing have asked for data on noise pollution if the runway is extended.”I think that’s a reasonable request by these communities and the intent of this EA is to answer their questions,” Elwood said.Elwood said the completion of the EA will cost $400,000. The remaining money from the grant will go to the taxiway relocation and a new aircraft rescue and firefighting center at Sardy Field.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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A ski season surrounded with uncertainty kicks off on Wednesday. The six inches of new snowfall Tuesday will allow opening of an additional 62 acres on Aspen Mountain, bringing opening-day total to about 160 acres.