Airport gets $5.8 million rehab grant

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In light of some bumps this summer with that whole close-the-control tower scare, things are likely to get much smoother at Centennial Airport, especially on one of its three runways.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently awarded a $5.8 million grant to the Arapahoe County Public Airport Authority for what it calls airport development and noise program implementation.

Airport Executive Director Robert Olislagers calls it runway replacement.

“Our grant will allow us to reconstruct the crosswind runway, starting the first week in September,” said Olislagers who hopes to have the project done in approximately 60 days.

Notices sent to local pilots state all of the existing pavement be removed and replaced with new asphalt.

The crosswind runway, also known as Runway 10/20, referring to its compass direction, is 75 feet wide and 4,800 feet long, and according to Olislagers, while it is still safe, is in need of complete reconstruction.

“Of course, I’m never gonna argue with anyone about a brand new runway,” said Nate Duehr, a pilot who has a plane based in Centennial. “The crosswind runway is really helpful and keeping the smaller aircraft out of the way of the bigger business jets who burn far more fuel waiting to take off. In the long term, I think it is a great investment for the airport, if for nothing more than alleviating traffic backups.”

Funding within the grant will also help implement an aircraft noise monitoring system to help pinpoint trouble spots around the immediate airport area.

The news comes on the heels of a summertime struggle between Centennial and the FAA after federal sequestration threatened to close overnight control tower operations.

Olislagers pleaded Centennial’s case to the feds citing potential safety issues and eventually the FAA reconsidered it decision on Centennial, as well as many other towers on its closure list.

Funding for the runway rehab project comes from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, which is entirely self-funded through the excise taxes charged on aviation and jet fuel.

No local tax dollars will be used for this project.

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