Tandem parachutists with Skydive Snohomish land and gather their canopies at Harvey Field in Snohomish on Thursday while repaving is underway at the nearby asphalt runway. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Tandem parachutists with Skydive Snohomish land and gather their canopies at Harvey Field in Snohomish on Thursday while repaving is underway at the nearby asphalt runway. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Harvey Field runway gets a makeover, the first in 40 years

Aviation-related federal revenue is covering the cost. The Snohomish airport has been family-owned since 1944.

SNOHOMISH — The famous hump in Harvey Field’s asphalt runway will soon be smoothed over.

For pilots, getting a new runway is like “when you drive on the highway and it’s nice and smooth with new paving — it sounds better, it feels better,” said Gabe Oh, a private pilot who frequents family-owned Harvey. “That’s gonna be pretty exciting.”

The runway was laid in the 1980s. Crews have patched cracks through the years, but this is the first large-scale rehabilitation.

Maintenance has been needed for years. The state Department of Transportation rated the condition of the public-use runway as “poor” in 2018, said Tyson Harvey, owner of Skydive Snohomish and a fourth-generation Harvey, whose family owns the airport.

Oh said he never thought the airport’s notorious hump at the north end of the runway was a safety hazard — just a quirk of the 40-year-old pavement.

A plane lands on the grass runway at Harvey Field in Snohomish as work starts on the nearby asphalt runway. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

A plane lands on the grass runway at Harvey Field in Snohomish as work starts on the nearby asphalt runway. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

The runway repaving is funded by the Federal Aviation Administration through fuel taxes, user fees and other aviation-related revenue, Harvey said. The FAA, state Department of Ecology and Snohomish County participated in planning and design. The runway rehab cost is about $1.4 million.

Over the next month, the material of the existing runway will be milled and reused to rehabilitate the surface from end to end, Harvey said. Airport operations will be limited, though some pilots will use an adjacent grass runway until the paving project is complete.

The project “should enable the runway to be solid for another 40 years — even better than it was before, which is going to be great for all the users of the airport,” Harvey said.

In addition to improving pilot safety and their experience at Harvey, the project symbolizes the resilience of the family-run airport.

“We’re staying alive and our family is still there every day running it,” Harvey said.

The main asphalt runway at Harvey Airfield in Snohomish is closed for repaving. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

The main asphalt runway at Harvey Airfield in Snohomish is closed for repaving. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

John and Christina Harvey built their homestead in Snohomish in 1877. Their son, Noble, and grandson Eldon turned their fields into an airport in 1944, and their descendants have carried on the legacy.

Today the airport is home to about 350 aircraft and over a dozen businesses.

“I love the small airport feel,” Oh said. “Not only that, but you get pilots that are just — they just hang out. It sounds so cliché, but it really is a family atmosphere over there, where they know you by name and say, ‘Hey what’s going on? Where you going today?’”

Oh, a Mill Creek resident who began flying as a teenager, said the experience at Harvey keeps him coming back.

“Sitting on the balcony of the Buzz Inn restaurant, you can see not only airplanes but you’ve got the parachuters and then, in the evening, you’ve got the hot air balloons,” he said. “It surely is quite a sight to see.”

Isabella Breda: 425-339-3192; isabella.breda@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @BredaIsabella.

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