The city recently awarded a contract to Q&D Construction for the heavy aircraft apron and concrete hardstand expansion at the Winnemucca Municipal Airport as part of the airport capital improvement plan, an improvement that will double the heavy aircraft capacity.
The project is paid for from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) match grant funding, with 6.25% of the project cost split and paid for between the city and county as part of the cost-sharing agreement.
City of Winnemucca Manager/Engineer Alicia Heiser said the heavy aircraft apron at the airport currently has a capacity for one heavy aircraft and with the expansion, the capacity will increase to two. The heavy aircraft apron is mostly used by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) during fire season for their large air tankers.
While the taxiways and runways are used for aircraft in motion, the apron is for parking aircraft for maintenance and loading or unloading passengers or cargo and the heavy aircraft apron is constructed of both concrete and asphalt. The concrete hardstand is where the aircraft parks when not in use.
Heiser said the timing for the expansion was planned this year because the heavy airport apron needs to be reconstructed for maintenance and it makes sense to do the expansion while construction is planned to get everything done at once.
The concrete and asphalt at the airport are surveyed and inspected regularly and once they reach a certain level of deterioration, must be replaced or repaired to be brought back up to standard.
According to the airport capital improvement plan, the current heavy aircraft apron only allows for one C-130 tanker aircraft or a similar aircraft on the apron.
“That has limited Winnemucca being a base for large firefighting operations and the proposed expansion will allow for two aircraft to be on the apron at one time,” said Heiser. “In a normal fire year they were probably fine with what we have, but this would probably help in an instance such as the Martin fire.
The plan for the construction project is to start early to mid-August and to finish around the end of September or early August, weather and fire season permitting.
Heiser said the heavy apron and concrete hardstand expansions were originally planned as part of a three-schedule project that included expansion of the general aviation apron and hardstand (schedule two) and relocation of fueling equipment (schedule three).
The FAA awarded an initial grant amount of $1,920,555 for the entire project (total cost of $2,040,590) but the contractor bids came back higher than anticipated, and the funding awarded didn’t even cover schedule one of the project. Armstrong Consulting, Inc. contacted the FAA on behalf of the city to request additional funds to be able to award schedule one of the project, which was approved.
The total project cost was increased by $109,000 and both the city and county also approved the additional match cost of close to $13,000 each.
Heiser said the originally planned schedule two and three of the project will be added back into the airport capital improvement plan to be completed at a later date when additional funding is available.
The FAA grant funding each year is awarded on a match basis at 93.75% of project cost, with the city and county funding and splitting the remaining 6.25%. Armstrong Consulting, LLC. is the contractor for the airport and assists with obtaining FAA grants and recommendations for the rolling five-year capital improvement plan.