Smoother sailing: Arlington airport gets grant to fix runway

A $2.3 million federal grant will pave the way for a project to resurface the airfield’s main runway.

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ARLINGTON — The main runway at Arlington Municipal Airport will have a new look and feel — and no bumps — thanks to a $2.3 million federal grant.

The Federal Aviation Administration awarded $518 million in federal airport improvement grants this year to airfields around the nation. The grants can only be used for airport infrastructure projects.

The half-billion-dollar total includes $7.3 million to help fund projects at four Western Washington airports: Arlington, Bellingham, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Jefferson County International Airport.

Arlington’s share, $2.3 million, covers most of a $3.2 million project to resurface the airport’s main Runway 16/34, which is 5,332 feet long.

The city-owned airport largely serves the general aviation community — everything but scheduled commercial and cargo flights.

A proposal to extend the main runway by 677 feet isn’t in the cards for now, although it’s been part of the Arlington airport’s master plan for a dozen years and will be included in a 2024 update of the document, city officials have said. The extra footage would allow the airport to accommodate corporate aircraft with wider wingspans and faster approach speeds.

The federal grant is expected to show up in the airport’s bank account in a matter of days or weeks. When it does, the month-long resurfacing project could get underway in July, said David Ryan, Arlington’s airport director.

The project has already been bid and an asphalt contractor, Lakeside Industries, has been selected, Ryan said.

“The project is a mill and overlay,” said Ryan. “They’ll remove the top two inches of the runway’s surface and replace it with new asphalt. It will be leveled to make sure it drains properly.”

The runway’s existing asphalt, though safe, has reached the end of its 20-year life, Ryan said.

“The pavement at your airport is your biggest investment, so you have to take care of it,” he said.

“We’re a safe airport anyway,” he added. “It will enhance what we already have. The runway will be smoother. There won’t be any cracks or humps or bumps.”

Other airports’ plans for the money:

Bellingham International Airport was awarded $2.9 million to help fund the construction phase of a project to re-configure Taxiway F, which will be moved to a new location to better meet FAA design standards. Bellingham’s grant is part of the first round of funding distributed through the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law package, which allocated $25 billion for aviation infrastructure improvements.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport received $1.9 million to reconstruct apron pavement at Sea-Tac’s cargo facilities. The apron is the area used for parking, loading, unloading and refueling airplanes. The grant funds the replacement of 4,200 square yards of apron pavement at the Cargo 2 facility.

Jefferson County International Airport was awarded $150,000 to fund design of a new connector Taxiway A3, which will eliminate the need for aircraft to back-taxi on the runway. A portion of the grant will also be used to design replacements for the airfield’s existing guidance signs, bringing them up to FAA standards.

Janice Podsada: 425-339-3097; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @JanicePods.

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