A Lesson in Coordination

Dane County Regional Airport in Madison and consulting firm Mead & Hunt are receiving accolades for a runway safety area improvement project that required a minimum of environmental study due to an intense coordination effort with affected agencies.

Encourage native plant growth, preserve genetic diversity: Native seeds were harvested to restore the filled drain ditches. This was a cost-effective alternative to commercial seed which will encourage native vegetation to grow, while helping to preserve the fen's genetic diversity.

Rail bridge: At MSN, over 3000 feet of the rail line is elevated onto a bridge trestle system. Required because of soil conditions, this raised rail allows water and wildlife to pass beneath. The bridge construction was performed from the bridge, keeping equipment out of the marsh. Working from each end of the bridge, the contractor was able to complete the 112 – span structure on schedule, while minimizing the work that had to be completed during the breeding bird season.

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When finished, these mitigation measures are expected to produce positive impacts on the surrounding area. These efforts and successes were recognized by the FAA in the presentation of its first Outstanding Achievement Award for Environmental Stewardship to the airport this fall at the Great Lakes Region 22nd Annual Airport conference. The award cites the "extraordinary measures" the airport took to protect the environment while improving the RSA.

The runway safety area improvements were completed in late 2006. The project included moving a busy county highway with daily traffic counts nearing 10,000 vehicles and constructing a new at-grade railroad crossing without shutting down the road.

Airside improvements are expected to be completed in early 2007. When fully completed, it's not only the airport that will enjoy improved safety, but commuters as well, as the redesigned road removes a sharp curve.

Laura Morland, P.E. is a Senior Project Manager at Mead & Hunt, Inc. in Madison, WI. She has more than 25 years experience managing and being a team member of multi-disciplinary environmental projects. Aviation projects have ranged in size from general aviation to mid-size hubs. She can be reached at laura.morland@meadhunt.com.

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