Soggy weather delays runway paving at Yampa Valley Regional Airport

Tom Ross
Crews from United Co. work on the first lane of asphalt in the re-paving of the runway at Yampa Valley Regional Airport with rain showers in the distance. An unsually wet month of May has delayed the paving work
Courtesy photo

— Yampa Valley Regional Airport Director Kevin Booth confirmed this week that an unusually wet month of May in Hayden has slowed the runway paving project at the airport. But given more favorable weather over the next 27 days, he said, there is sufficient time to finish the paving in advance of the scheduled re-opening of the runway on the morning of June 15.

“We’re definitely concerned about it, and the contractor is concerned about it,” Booth said Monday. “But we certainly have more than enough days to finish the paving to re-open the runway if we just get a little break in the weather. We’re behind in some phases and ahead in others.”

When the weather improves, Booth said, Grand Junction-based United Co. crews are prepared to lay down asphalt around the clock.

Booth said paving crews were close to completing the first of 16 lanes of asphalt paving (eight on the runway and eight on the shoulders) Monday afternoon. Each lane to be laid down on the 150-foot wide runway is 18.5 feet wide and 10,000 feet long. But paving operations can’t take place in wet conditions.

And for most of the first 19 days of May, wet is what construction crews have experienced. Through May 18, there were seven days when either no precipitation or just a trace was recorded, according to the National Weather Service.

County Commissioner Doug Monger said Monday that he had made a casual visit to the construction site last weekend and saw puddles everywhere.

Hayden hasn’t received as much rain this month as Steamboat has (4.08 inches at one weather station in the Steamboat), but the National Weather Service in Grand Junction confirms the 2.44 inches of rain recorded in Hayden through May 18 was already more than the “normal” 1.7 inches for the entire month. And that doesn’t include what was a wet Tuesday, May 19.

In addition to hampering paving, the wet conditions have kept crews from compacting the road base being used to widen the runway shoulders.

Booth said he and the contractors have adjustments they can make to the scope of work should the remaining days to finish runway paving grow short. For example, the schedule for paving taxiway connectors would be pushed back.

“We can delay the work on the connectors and open for business — we don’t need all of them to operate,” Booth said, adding that work can continue on paving the taxiways after the airport begins receiving aircraft again.

Asked about the possibility the paving won’t be done in time for the scheduled re-opening of the airport, Booth said, “We’re not at that stage yet. There is enough time in the schedule to finish the paving and the shoulders. If we get to the point where there are not enough days left, we’d make that notification.”

Jviation of Denver is overseeing runway construction management. The Federal Aviation Administration is paying for $13.2 million of the $16.6 million project. The Colorado Department of Transportation is pitching in $1.9 million, and Routt County is paying $1.9 million.

Work, including roto-milling and removing the top layer of the old asphalt, began shortly after Steamboat Ski Area closed April 14.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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