Curious about hole at the Arlington Airport?

ARLINGTON — A huge hole at the north end of Arlington Municipal Airport is raising questions among those who live nearby or walk the trail that borders the airfield.

The reason for the 10-acre hole is rather mundane: The ground is being leveled to improve runway safety and address potential groundwater runoff.

And it’s about to be filled in, said airport manager Rob Putnam.

The city-owned airport will fill and level about 18 acres in total around the runway. Putnam said several people have asked him about the hole.

The north end of the airport once was home to a municipal landfill on the east side and a sand and gravel pit where the hole is located, Putnam said. The former uses of the land left the property with widely varying elevations, he said.

To meet Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for height obstructions, trees and brush have been removed from the area. The grading project will allow the airport to plant grass, providing for a larger runway safety area, where an airplane pilot experiencing problems can put his plane down, Putnam said.

Clay fill dirt has been brought in and when the area has dried out this summer, topsoil will be spread over the area and grass planted. The hole also will be filled with large rock so water can collect there if needed, Putnam said.

As part of the project, the walking trail will be slightly rerouted, he said.

“Because we’ve done some digging and clearing in the area of the hole for the water runoff, I can see why people might think we’re digging instead of filling,” Putnam said.

Funding for the project includes some creative budgetary work, Putnam said. An airport tenant is bringing in the fill dirt on the former landfill area in exchange for an approximate $90,000 credit on the tenant’s lease, he said. The tenant is also donating fill material for the area where the hole is located. The amount credited to the tenant is substantially less than the 2002 project estimate of $268,000, Putnam said.

Reporter Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427 or gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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