High bid trims plan for airport upgrades
The Cortez Municipal Airport was cleared for takeoff Tuesday to move forward with nearly $3 million in improvements.
The Cortez City Council voted Tuesday to award Four Corners Materials a $2,784,563 construction bid for an airport taxiway shoulder project. With the low bid nearly $800,000 over cost estimates, airport manager Russ Machen said original plans were “chopped down.”
“The initial plan included three phases,” Machen said. “Now we’re down to only two.”
Designed by Denver-based Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., the original project called for new paved taxiway shoulders, improvements to the general aviation apron and relocation of a current vehicle service road. Machen said the service road relocation portion of the plan has completely been omitted, and the taxiway portion of the project was reduced by about a third. Officials are expected to revisit funding to complete the remaining portions of the project at a later date.
Machen explained to city council members that Congress was slow to fund the Federal Aviation Administration, forcing a delay in requesting bids. The wait, he said, resulted in higher than expected bids.
The FAA recommended the improvement project, and it’s anticipated the agency will provide a $150,000 grant to help cover construction costs, next year. The city is providing some $16,000 for the project, and the state is also funding the measure.
“The city will front the money only on paper, because the project should be completed about the same time the FAA grant is received,” Machen said.
City manager Shane Hale cautioned city leaders that it was possible that Congress could decide to cut the FAA grant, but he said it was unlikely the city would be left holding the tab. Machen agreed.
“We may have to cover the cost in the short term, but eventually we will be reimbursed,” he said.
The improvement project calls for 20-foot shoulders to be added to the current 50-feet wide taxiway to assist with snow removal and erosion control efforts. The project also involves crack repair and repaving of the aviation apron.
Air traffic could periodically be grounded during construction, but Machen said most delays would occur at night during the 11-week construction project, which is slated to start next month.
“There will be no complete closures of the airport,” Machen said. “There are two separate seven-day nighttime closures that will take place.”
Firm dates for any blackouts have yet to be announced, but the airport’s 7,205-foot porous friction runway would most likely be shut down between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., Machen said, affecting the late flight from Denver.
Cheyenne, Wyo.-based Great Lakes Airlines services Cortez with daily flights to and from Denver.