Airport reconstruction moves forward

MEEKER I Rio Blanco County commissioners were notified July 3 that the federal funding for the Meeker Airport reconstruction project has been released. Planning for this project started back in the mid-’90s with airport manager Gary Coulter (Coulter Aviation), who was instrumental in identifying this project as a priority for the Meeker Airport. GDA Engineers completed the design of the runway in January 2012.
“As development throughout eastern Rio Blanco County continues, we see an increase in the number of aircraft using our airport.” Rio Blanco County administrator Kimberly Bullen said. “This increased traffic has generated a greater demand for a wider runway with greater runway strength.”
Rio Blanco County will officially accept the grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to fund 90 percent of the reconstruction project later this week. The Aeronautics Division of the Colorado Department of Transportation will contribute 5 percent and Rio Blanco County will fund the remaining 5 percent ($497,753) of the project.
The project will involve the demolition of the existing 60-foot wide by 6,500-foot long runway and reconstruction of a new 100-foot wide runway. The length of the runway remaining at 6,500 feet. GDA Engineering’s cost estimate was set at $12.2 million and the project received nine competitive bids.
RBC will award the project to Fiore and Sons, a Denver-based company. Fiore and Sons submitted the low bid for the project at $8.8 million. The reconstruction will begin before Aug. 1 and will continue into the fall of 2013.
“The airport will remain unaffected and business as usual during Phase I of the construction where dirt work will be done in the runway safety areas,” said Samantha Lopez, RBC airports coordinator.
Lopez said the runway would be shortened Sept. 1 to approximately 4,400 feet but will remain open until April 1, 2013, when the full reconstruction project begins, at which time the airport will remain open to helicopter traffic until completion.