San Angelo's Mathis Field Renovation Halted By FAA Changes

April 24--SAN ANGELO, Texas -- San Angelo's Mathis Field renovation project is on hold because of changes in federal requirements.

"Because of that we have to start the process all over again," said Luis Elguezabal, airport director. "We're held up an additional 60 to 90 days."

At Wednesday's City of San Angelo Development Corp. meeting, Elguezabal presented an update on the project, saying construction has been on hold since mid-December because officials were awaiting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to use funds for a change order, or an adjustment to the scope of work stipulated in a contract.

"We have the money. It will be approved, it's just going to take a little longer," Elguezabal said.

Developers requested a change order that would allow them to reroute the main electrical feeder cables to avoid a structural beam and include the rental car area in the renovations, said David Alexander, manager at KSA Engineers in San Angelo.

The total change order would cost about $250,000 to $270,000, Elguezabal said, but about $185,000 of that needs FAA approval before the project can move forward.

"That's the hold up," Elguezabal said.

Last Monday, Elguezabal and developers met with FAA officials and discovered they had to restart the change order request.

Because of some personnel changes in the FAA, Elguezabal said, the rules changed.

Previously, he said, the process required 30 days of public notification and 30 days of notification to the airlines -- which were met.

"We thought we did that," Elguezabal said. "But on Monday it was denied."

Under the new FAA leadership, he said the agency requires an extra 30 days of time for the airlines to respond to the notification.

Now developers have to process the change order request all over again, pushing the project back another 60 to 90 days.

Renovations began in January 2012 and originally were scheduled to be mostly complete this spring. Now the completion date is unclear.

So far $3.5 million of the project has been paid for, Elguezabal said. The main contractor is Templeton Construction.

About 90 percent of the airport renovation project -- estimated at $5.9 million -- is funded through FAA funds, under what is called a passenger facility charge. The passenger facility charge is maintained by the airport at $4.50 per enplaning passenger.

"It's our money to use as we see fit," Elguezabal said, "but we still need (federal) approval. Legally, I cannot use the $185,000."

Elguezabal said the project could possibly move forward if COSADC gives the airport a line of credit -- which he likely will not need to use by the time the FAA approval comes through.

COSADC members requested to bring the item back for further discussion at its next meeting, scheduled for May 14.

In other news

Kevin Krueger, assistant director of Water Utilities for the city, presented a brief update on the Hickory Aquifer Water Supply project at the Wednesday meeting.

Within the Hickory project, Krueger said there are six smaller projects, three of which are complete -- the well field piping, the 30-inch transmission main and the installation of the booster pump station and well field pump.

Still under construction are the groundwater treatment facility, the well field expansion package 1 -- to drill and case six new wells in addition to the nine that are complete -- and the well field expansion package 2 -- to install additional pipelines, roads and pumps.

The groundwater treatment facility, which is likely of most public interest, Krueger said, is making progress. The walls are going up on the 208-foot-by-133-foot building. The facility will remove iron from the water by using a sand filter, and radium by using an ion exchange medium.

"In concept it's a fairly simple process," Kruger said. "It's a flow-through process."

The water then will be passed into a clearwell, where it is disinfected before being distributed to the city.

Responding to a question from the board, Krueger said drilled wells seem to indicate the aquifer gets deeper toward the west of the well field. The well field is about 7 miles long, Krueger said, and experts have been seeing a variation of depth across the water-bearing formation from about 3,000 feet to 2,600 feet below the surface.

To illustrate, Krueger said, one of the first wells the city drilled toward the west of the well field was about 3,000 feet deep. Another well, drilled just a mile east of the first one, was 100 feet shallower.

Copyright 2014 - San Angelo Standard-Times, Texas

Loading