Airport beacon bidders in the dark

Questions over location put landing device installation in holding pattern

Moffat County commissioners will decide Thursday which one of four companies should install a beacon at the Craig Municipal Airport.

Bids for the service range from almost $3,500 to more than $7,000.

Craig's Mountain States Company is the lowest bidder at $3,440.

Another estimate from the Craig-based firm Rick M. Vaughn Electric Company came in the highest at $7,104.

Steamboat Springs' Delta Springs presented a bid for $4,350 and Central Electric, also out of Steamboat Springs, came in at $6,470.

A $35,000 grant from Colorado's Department of Transportation Aeronautical Division, secured by the county earlier this year, will cover costs of the beacon and its installation, said Jack Kelly a motor grader supervisor with Moffat County.

A newly purchased $5,300 beacon manufactured by Blue Light Airport in Connecticut will replace the airport's 1940s version that often causes the county headaches in costly replacements and extra hours of labor. The new beacon contains two 4,000-watt bulbs that should be visible up to 50 miles away, Kelly said.

"We were surprised the (old beacon) is still working," Kelly said of the antiquated light.

It wasn't unusual, he said, to maintain the old light two or three times a month. The last problem he encountered with the old beacon was finding a green bulb needed to complement the beacon's white one. After finding the correct match, the replacement cost $450, he said.

"Getting a new beacon will save us a lot of time," Kelly added.

Currently, the county has paperwork in to the Bureau of Land Management to approve the beacon's installation on Breeze Mountain. When the county began weighing the decision on to place the beacon, residents near the airport complained the light would flash in their windows if the beacon was placed at the airport.

But until BLM responds to the county's request, the new beacon -- and the company chosen to install it -- will be waiting in the dark.

That means, the county's more-than-half-century-old beacon will have shine a little longer.

"It's working on a prayer right now," Kelly said.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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