New runway put on hold until March ; Date pushed back a 4th time to give ground time to thaw

June 11, 2007

Reconstruction of the main runway at the Colorado Springs Airport has been put on hold until March 1, airport officials said Tuesday.

The $37.6 million project is scheduled to be completed this spring, said John Faulkner, assistant director of aviation, planning and development. The completion date is dependent on weather.

The repaving of the airport's longest runway, which began in January 2006, was needed because a runway deicer reacted with the soil and cement of the runway, corroding the runway's concrete prematurely.

Persistent cold weather and snowstorms, which halted construction starting in December, have pushed the completion date back a fourth time because remaining work requires temperatures 50 degrees or above and thawed ground. The ground at the airport is frozen 18 inches deep, Faulkner said.

Remaining runway work includes electrical work, painting and pouring asphalt on the runway shoulders, Faulkner said.

The project must pass final inspection by airport engineers and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Airport officials recently met with Interstate Highway Construction, contractors on the project, and decided to postpone the project until March, when the weather is expected to warm, Faulkner said.

"We wanted to pull them off the project so our overhead doesn't continue to accrue," Faulkner said.

"They were sending their people out here every day and they couldn't do anything. It didn't make sense for any of us."

Because weather was the culprit for the delay, the contractor will not be charged penalties for the delay and will be given more days to complete the project.

In turn, the airport will not be charged more for the project being extended.

The project is still within the $32.3 million construction budget, Faulkner said. About $2.3 million was spent designing the project, he said. The majority of the project is being funded by FAA grants.

The runway project was scheduled to be completed in October.

That deadline moved to December because oil shortages in the summer halted asphalt pouring, and changes to FAA construction requirements delayed work on the runway shoulders.

In December, contractors requested a mid-January deadline, but winter weather delayed the January deadline.

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