Runway project at Steamboat Springs Airport about to take off |

Runway project at Steamboat Springs Airport about to take off

The $4.2 million project will shut down the Steamboat Springs Airport in the middle of July

A small private plan takes off at the Steamboat Springs Airport on Thursday, June 16, 2022. It's going to be a busy summer at the airport as a long list of improvements are scheduled to start soon.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The biggest summer project by the City of Steamboat Springs, according to Airport Manager Stacie Fain, is happening at the Steamboat Springs Airport at Bob Adams Field.

Starting this week, crews will begin staging equipment in preparation to overhaul the runway.

The project is scheduled to close the runway from July 12 to July 26 while construction crews do a “mill and fill,” for which they will scrape off the top of the runway and repair the structure underneath.

Crews will then repave the runway and paint temporary markings while the new asphalt cures. After the asphalt has cured, crews will seal the surface, cut grooves into the runway and paint permanent markings.

Fain expects about a week of night closures while the runway is being resealed and grooved, which should wrap up around the end of August.

Ninety percent of the money for the $4.2 million project is coming from the Federal Aviation Administration. Another 5% is being funded by the Colorado Department of Transportation, and the sponsor of the airport —the city — is paying the remaining 5% .

“It’s a really good deal,” Fain said.

A private airplane sits on the tarmac at the Steamboat Springs Airport on Thursday, June 16, 2022.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Engineering firm Garver was awarded the contract from the city.

Originally, the project included replacing the lights around the runway as well, but because of supply-chain issues, costs swelled and the plan for new lights was scrapped to keep the project within budget.

Based on the size of the airport and how the runway is used, the FAA and CDOT determined a rehabilitation is appropriate every 20 years.

Both the FAA and CDOT inspect the runway every three years, and both agencies have found the runway’s current condition to warrant funding for a rehabilitation project.

The asphalt used on runways is a specialized blend designed to support the heavy weights and high speeds of motorized aircraft, so it must comply with specific FAA standards. To test the new asphalt, construction crews will first pave over the taxiway and test to see if it meets FAA specifications. If the new surface checks out, the milling of the runway will start soon thereafter.

Crews plan on moving the milled asphalt scraped off the runway over to the staging area to make a surface where three to five helicopters could park.  The staging area, just north of the airport where the heavy construction equipment will be parked, should be ready to operate in an early phase as a designated helicopter parking area by next summer.

The new parking area will provide more room for helicopters used for fighting wildfires, emergency medical transport and search and rescue.

Also happening at the airport this summer, a grant has already been approved through the city that will fund a flight simulator, which members of the public will be able to rent out by the hour.

Fain said that as soon as the grant is done being processed, they’ll purchase and install the simulator. The simulator is meant to train new pilots and help veteran pilots stay proficient on their instruments.

Fain added that the FAA will publish on July 1 a new straight-in instrument approach, which the airport hasn’t had before.

“It’s always been a circling approach,” she said, explaining the new approach has been in the works for several years.

During the last week of July, Fain said CDOT will be providing cameras that will provide real-time footage of the weather conditions at the runway, which will be available on the airport’s website and give pilots the chance to visualize runway conditions.

From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 18, the airport and the Steamboat Springs Ski Town Lion’s Club will be hosting the second annual Regional and Vintage Aircraft Fly In & Airport Appreciation Day, where the public is invited to watch airplanes of many makes and models take off and land on the freshly renovated runway. Breakfast will be provided by the Lion’s Club. 

Planes sit on the tarmac at the Steamboat Springs Airport on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Planned upgrades at the airport are expected to begin soon.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

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