Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bellingham International Airport completes runway project

Despite unseasonably wet weather, workers were able to complete the Bellingham International Airport's $29 million paving project on time. The Port of Bellingham closed the runway on Aug. 31 and launched a three week, 24-hour-day construction and paving operation.

During that time, Icon Materials of Tukwila and more than two dozen local subcontractor businesses worked on this project that included distributing 174,000 tons of asphalt onto the runway and taxiways. The crews repeatedly had to suspend work when it was raining. But they completed the runway paving operations on Saturday

"I am very happy to announce that the airport is scheduled to re-open as planned on Wednesday," said Port Aviation Director Art Choat. "Our contractors truly had to battle Mother Nature and they did an outstanding job of getting this work done on time."

Although the runway won't officially open until Wednesday, people may see one plane flying in and out on Tuesday. That's because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must conduct test flights to certify the airport's instrument landing systems and visual aid systems before pilots can begin using the airport.
Those test flights are scheduled to begin around noon on Tuesday.

Allegiant Air MD-88 (49761/1623) N401NV Flt. AAY292 rolls for takeoff bound for Bellingham International (BLI/KBLI) at 1802 on September 23, 2010. (Photo by Michael Carter)

The first commercial flight scheduled out of the Bellingham airport Wednesday will be the 5:20 a.m. Horizon Air flight to Seattle. On Wednesday, about 1,000 commercial passengers are scheduled to fly out of Bellingham, Choat said.
This $29 million project is the largest construction project in the 90-year history of the Port of Bellingham. An estimated 250 skilled trades people worked on this project including many from Whatcom County. The FAA paid for 95 percent of this project, with the remaining amount coming from passenger fees collected at the Bellingham airport.

This was the first major repair work done to the runway since it opened in 1941. The project will improve both the runway and the taxiways to provide stronger surfaces, better drainage and the ability to serve larger aircraft. After re-opening, the runway will be able to accommodate Boeing 757s.

This project began in April 2010 and will continue for a few more months with additional paving and finishing work occurring on portions of the taxiways.

As this huge paving operation wraps up, the Port will turn its attention to the Commercial Air Terminal. The Port plans to launch a $30 million multi-year terminal expansion project that will result in a terminal that is three times the size of the current facility. The Port Commission is expected to award a bid on the $7 million first phase of the terminal project later this fall.

(Port of Bellingham - Press Release)

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