Runway workers moving ‘heaven and earth’ 24 hours a day at Yampa Valley Airport | CraigDailyPress.com

Runway workers moving ‘heaven and earth’ 24 hours a day at Yampa Valley Airport

Tom Ross

— Yampa Valley Regional Airport Manger Kevin Booth told Routt County commissioners Monday that favorable weather has accelerated work on the runway construction project, adding the airport is on track for a delayed reopening June 25.

"The good weather has been really great, and they are going at the speed of light now," Booth said. "We're on track to open at 4 p.m. on the 25th. The shoulders will be completely ready for paving on Wednesday. Once we've got those paved, we're sort of protected from the weather."

The runway closed April 14 so new asphalt and shoulders required by the Federal Aviation Administration could be installed at the commercial airport in Hayden. It was slated to reopen June 15, but record rainfall in May caused numerous delays in paving, as well as construction of the new shoulders.

Paving can't take place when water is standing on the runway, Booth emphasized, but the biggest problem during the construction resulted when gravel fill compacted into the excavation for the new shoulders turned into a quagmire under daily rains and had to be removed.

In recent days, one rain shower drenched the west end of the runway but stayed away from east end of the 10,000-foot strip of asphalt where crews were busy. And during the weekend, Booth said, construction foremen were about to pull the operators off their heavy equipment as a lightning storm approached from the south when the storm cell made a sharp right turn and headed east in the direction of Steamboat Springs.

Booth said United Company, the paving contractor, has "moved heaven and earth" to accelerate the construction now that the skies have mostly cleared. Earth work is taking place around the clock, and paving is underway 14 to 15 hours a day when the weather is favorable, he added. An engineer employed by construction manager Jviation is also working at night.

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Commissioners held general discussion about the potential for one of the entities involved in the construction or impacted by the delay — United Airlines or Atlantic Aviation, the fixed base operator that supports general aviation at YVRA, for example — filing a damage claim.

Booth said he has not received any change orders from United or subcontractors pertaining to the rain delays and does not expect any.

Commissioner Cari Hermacinski said she has visited the site twice recently and was impressed by the number of workers on the job.

Booth said some of the most critical work yet to be done is installation of new runway lights, and United has been adjusting its optimal paving schedule in favor of making certain the electricians don't run out of work.

"The last thing, before reopening the airport, is we flip on the lights, Booth said.

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

Bicycle the runway

What: Celebration of the upcoming June 25 reopening of the runway at Yampa Valley Regional Airport. Free hot dogs and hamburgers. Bring a bicycle, inline skates and skateboards for a rare chance to ride down the two-mile-long newly resurfaced runway.

When: 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, June 14

Where: Yampa Valley Regional Airport, Routt County Road 51, Hayden

Please R.S.V.P. to 970-276-5001 ortbuskirk@co.routt

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