Aug. 18—The commercial apron at Bert Mooney Airport is getting a $2.4 million overhaul that includes a new concrete surface and the base for a new passenger boarding bridge.
The new boarding bridge itself is slated for installation next year and is part of a separate $1.1 million project. The current bridge is 30 years old and needs work and major refurbishing, said Bert Mooney Airport Manager Pam Chamberlin.
The apron is where aircraft are parked, loaded and unloaded, refueled and boarded. The commercial portion at Bert Mooney has been asphalt for decades and is cracking and grooving and simply wearing out.
It has probably been three decades since it got a major overhaul and is being replaced with concrete that's a foot deep in most places and 18 inches in some spots, said Rick Ryan, assistant manager at the airport.
Concrete lasts longer and is a better surface for aircrafts, and Ryan said the new apron is also designed for "future expansion in case we do get bigger planes."
The apron project was designed last year and went out to bid early this year, with White Resources, a concrete contractor in Butte, landing the job. It started work on July 18 with completion anticipated sometime in September.
There are also seven or eight subcontractors working on specific parts of the project, Ryan said.
The project is being funded with federal dollars, including some the airport receives annually from the Federal Aviation Administration for capital improvement projects and some from an infrastructure package Congress passed in 2021. It required a 10% local match from the airport.
Federal dollars are also funding most of the planned $1.1 million passenger bridge project. It will include a new bridge that allows people to board directly from the airport terminal to the airplane and vice-versa without going outside.
The current bridge is old but it but it won't be discarded after the new one is installed next year. It's getting a "complete overhaul," Chamberlin said, so it can be a backup or be used in a possible airport or air service expansion.
"It's in decent shape — that's why we're going to refurbish it," she said. "It's structurally sound but it needs the motor (worked on) and we've been having a lot of electrical issues. It's just old."
The current bridge has been out of commission since the apron work began last month. That's because the entire surface beneath it is being replaced with concrete.
Passengers have go outside to get on and off of flights but the current bridge should be in operation again once the apron project is completed, Ryan said.
Airport officials and others in Butte are still trying to arrange commercial air service to a second destination city. Service to Denver was added in January 2022 but it was scrapped six months later due to a pilot shortage.___
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