By Starrla Cray
WINSTED Although it’s called the Winsted Municipal Airport, funding at the federal level determines much of the airport’s future.
Winsted City Council members were reminded of this at their work session April 3, after hearing how plans for the new turf runway are progressing.
The current turf runway is 200 feet wide with no shoulders. In the environmental assessment for a new turf runway, the same width of 200 feet was listed.
However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is now reevaluating these specifications, and has proposed a 120-foot-wide runway. The FAA is considering the possibility of 10-foot-wide shoulders on each side, which would make the total runway width 140 feet.
City Administrator Dan Tienter said Winsted’s public works department does not believe the 10-foot-wide shoulders would be adequate for snow removal purposes, and maintenance staff is instead advocating for 20-foot-wide shoulders (a total of 160 feet runway width).
Ron Roetzel, aviation group manager with the engineering firm Bolton & Menk, said a 120-foot runway is “not unusual” for an airport, but it would be an adjustment for pilots in Winsted who are used to the wider runway.
Roetzel, Tienter, and Melissa Underwood of Bolton & Menk met with FAA representatives Nick Pratt, Josh Fitzpatrick, Gina Mitchell, and Lindsay Butler March 16 to discuss this and other aspects of the upcoming turf runway project.
Tienter said the FAA’s unexpected proposal of a 120-foot-wide runway was “disconcerting” and “very odd,” since it was never mentioned during the project planning.
Roetzel commended Tienter on his dealings with the FAA, and said he represented the city “very well” at the March 16 meeting.
Council members told Tienter they would prefer a 200-foot-wide runway, and that a total width of 160 feet (including shoulders) would be the minimum. They directed Tienter to go back to the FAA to make the city’s position known.
The runway reconstruction project is scheduled to take place in 2019.
The FAA is funding 90 percent of the cost. Five percent will be locally funded (paid for by existing and future hangar owners). The city will temporarily be responsible for the future hangar owner portion.
The other 5 percent will be paid for by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, at least through the end of its fiscal year, June 30, 2019. Roetzel said he anticipates state funding to continue after that, but funds won’t be officially allocated until the state goes through its regular budgeting process.
At the regular council meeting following Tuesday’s work session, the council:
• approved a revised work order amending the professional services contract between Winsted and Bolton & Menk, to provide design and bid administration services as required for the turf runway and lighting project at the airport.
• authorized Bolton & Menk to submit a revised fiscal year 2017 grant pre-application package to the FAA to request funding for the airport’s 2018 capital improvement plan.