Airport looks at reconstruction | Guest column

by Anthony Simpson

Airport manager

The Orcas Airport is embarking on a major reconstruction project scheduled for next year. We will have a public meeting about the project on Thursday, Dec 12 at 5 p.m.

The $6 million project includes rehabilitation of the runway, rehabilitation and moving the parallel taxiway to meet FAA design standards, regrading the lateral profile and airport shoulders to meet current FAA design standards for safety, new LED runway lighting that will reduce energy usage, stormwater drainage improvements and possible wetland improvements as mitigation.

An FAA grant is funding 90 percent of the project with the remaining funds paid from airport revenues, including taxes.

The scope of this endeavor necessitates an Environmental Assessment to comply with the Federal National Environmental Policy Act and State Environmental Policy. The kickoff meeting is an opportunity for the community to learn more about the project, the Environmental Assessment process, as well as future opportunities to comment on the project’s impacts on the entire spectrum of environmental concerns, including air and water quality, threatened and endangered species, historic and cultural artifacts, and social and economic life.

To help project meeting attendance, we are asking people to send an email to orcasairport@rockisland.com indicating they plan to attend. Then we will pick our venue for the meeting.

People can also call me at 376-5285 or stop by the airport office in the terminal.

While the environmental assessment is in progress, the public (and pilots) may see personnel surveying in the vicinity of the runway to conduct the assessment. We issue Notices to Airman through the FAA to ensure that pilots are aware of the surveyors’ presence. We also  notify  personnel working near the runway to have training, equipment and procedures to ensure they are safe and not a hazard to aircraft.