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7:56 PM Tue, Sept. 18th

City hopes to have airport runway prepped for new airline

A Great Lakes Airline flight to Los Angeles leaves Thursday, April 5, 2017, from Prescott’s Ernest A. Love Field. The airline suspended Prescott air service effective Monday, March 26, 2018. (Les Stukenberg/Courier, file)

A Great Lakes Airline flight to Los Angeles leaves Thursday, April 5, 2017, from Prescott’s Ernest A. Love Field. The airline suspended Prescott air service effective Monday, March 26, 2018. (Les Stukenberg/Courier, file)

With commercial-airline bids pending in July, the City of Prescott appears poised to kick off a $6.1 million safety project on the Prescott Airport’s main runway in the coming months.

City Community Outreach Manager John Heiney said the city hopes to have the project completed over the summer, before a new airline arrives.

“The goal remains to get this approved and done before the EAS (Essential Air Service) starts,” he said.

At its 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, voting meeting, the Prescott City Council will consider accepting a $5,795,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that would cover much of the cost for the required runway rehabilitation.

The voting session is one of three meetings the council will conduct on Tuesday. A closed-door executive session for legal advice about Granite Dells Estates will take place at 1 p.m., and a study session for an overview update on the 2018 State Legislative session is scheduled for 2 p.m.

All three meetings will take place at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.

Prescott has been without commercial air service since late March, when the city’s longtime carrier, Great Lakes Airlines, suspended its service, which involved flights to Los Angeles and Denver.

Great Lakes’ announcement set off a process to get a new commercial airline in through the city’s federal EAS subsidy.

The bids from interested airlines are due by July 2, and Heiney said the city’s Airport Advisory Committee would likely conduct a meeting on July 3 to discuss the choices. Then, the City Council could call an emergency meeting on July 5 to consider recommending one of the bids. The final decision will be up to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which administers the EAS program.

Airport Director Robin Sobotta said the coming construction work would require a closure of the main runway for about 22 days.

While the project will continue (for a total of 66 contract days), remaining runway work would take place at night, Sobotta said, and would not affect the operation of a commercial airline.

And even during the 22 days of closure of the main runway, the airport will never be completely closed, Sobotta said, noting, “At all times, at least one runway will be open.”

The 22 days of main-runway closures should be complete by the time a new commercial airline begins its service, which Sobotta estimated at about late August to early September.

The runway project is needed to comply with safety and FAA standards, according to a city memo.

“Runway 3R-21L consists of very old and severely deteriorated asphaltic concrete pavement and has reached the end of its useful life,” the memo states. “The last pavement rehabilitation project for the runway was a 1-inch overlay in 2003, (over 14 years go).”

The existing pavement produces debris that could severely damage aircraft operating on the runway, the memo stated, adding that the current conditions have become “a significant liability to the city.”

While the city received two bids for the runway-improvement construction, one of the bidders (Combs Construction) later informed the city of a clerical error in its bid and asked to withdraw.

That left just one bid — for $4.9 million from Fann Contracting, Inc. The memo notes that the bid meets all requirements, and the city is recommending awarding the bid to Fann.

Along with the $4.9 million for construction, the project includes about $471,000 for design and engineering, $474,000 for construction administration services, and $258,000 for city reimbursable expenses.

In addition to the $5.8 million FAA grant, the Arizona Department of Transportation would contribute 2.5 percent of the cost ($152,500), while the city would pay an additional $152,500.

In other action on Tuesday, the council will: Consider special use permits for two cell towers – one on Prescott Unified School District property at 1845 Campbell Avenue; and another on Free Methodist Church of Prescott, Inc. property at 2797 Willow Creek Road. Both items are on the council’s consent agenda, which means they could be approved as a part of a single council vote along with several other items.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2034, or cbarks@prescottaz.com.