By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN Will the runway at the Winsted Municipal Airport be paved, or will the existing turf runway be fully reconstructed?
In less than one month, this question will have a final answer.
Updated costs and project details were presented at Tuesday’s Winsted City Council work session, and again at a public hearing Thursday evening, where attendees had the opportunity to ask questions and offer input.
Melissa Underwood, senior planner with engineering firm Bolton & Menk, walked through the benefits and drawbacks of each option. Both projects would be designed to increase the drainage, stability, reliability, and safety of the runway.
The total cost for the paved runway would be $6,672,800, while turf would cost $3,690,800.
Ninety-percent of both projects would be paid for by the federal government. The local share of both projects would be either 5 percent or 10 percent, depending on a possible 5 percent contribution from the state. The state funding decision is made every two years.
Underwood stated that the runway project (whether paved or turf) will take more than two years to complete. She estimated that the turf project would likely be designed in two years, and the paved project would probably have land acquired by then.
The 5 or 10 percent local contribution is to be paid by existing and future hangar owners. Currently, there are 42 hangars.
The paved runway project assumes that 30 more hangars will be added in the future, for a total of 72 hangars. The turf project estimates 20 hangars to be added, for a total of 62.
If the local contribution is 10 percent, the assessment per hangar would be about $6,200 for turf or about $9,400 for paved spread out over 10 years.
“The city would [temporarily] be responsible for the 30 [or 20] hangars that aren’t filled yet,” Underwood said.
City Administrator Dan Tienter said the city would structure a levy so that “over time, the city would pay itself back” as new hangars are built.
A few new rules
Both projects include relocation of a Northern Natural Gas pipeline currently running under the existing runway safety area. For paving, 2,742 feet would need to move; and for turf, 3,482 feet would need to move, according to a memo from Underwood. (The paved runway would be 150 feet north of the existing centerline.)
The paving project also requires the acquisition of almost 60 acres of land from nine different landowners, realignment of the Luce Line State Trail near the airport, and relocation of a storage building owned by the Winsted Farmers Coop Creamery.
Previously, Cable Avenue would have been required to either move or be closed, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has since relaxed the rules.
“They realized, over the course of the year, how costly this was across the nation,” Underwood said, explaining that road closures near airports are now decided on a case-by-case basis.
For Cable Avenue, it was decided that the road can stay, even if the runway is paved.
The rules have also changed regarding relocation of the Winsted Farmers Coop Creamery. Previously, more of the co-op would have been required to move. Now, only the storage building farthest west would need to move, assuming the co-op gains permission from the joint airport zoning board for a variance.
The 30-day public comment period for the proposed runway options began May 8, and will end Wednesday, June 7. All land owners within a half mile of the airport received a letter with information about both runway alternatives.
The council plans to make a final decision on either paving or reconstructing the turf runway at a special meeting Thursday, June 8 at 4 p.m. in the council chambers of city hall.