MONTROSE – Montrose Regional Airport's taxiway project is coming along smoothly and could be completed ahead of schedule, according to airport officials.
On April 16, the airport closed one of its two runways to complete an extension of its taxiway. That project was expected to be completed by the end of July, but during a public meeting Tuesday, Director of Aviation Lloyd Arnold said it could be finished earlier.
Montrose Regional Airport has two runways. Runway 17/35 is a primary landing strip that is nearly two miles long and handles most of the airport's commercial traffic. Its taxiway parallels the runway, offering easy access to and safe departures from that runway for planes.
The airport's second runway, 13/31, didn't really have a taxiway, Arnold said.
Within the past decade, the airport was able to construct a few sections of a Bravo 1 taxiway. However, planes that needed the full runway to land, had to turn around and taxi back on the runway to get to the terminal. This caused safety issues, wasted fuel and was time consuming, Arnold said.
The current project, which is being funded primarily through federal and state grants, will complete sections of the taxiway to help elevate these issues, he said.
The project's primary contractor, United Companies, is currently moving dirt and reinforcing the new taxiway much like what would be done with a highway. As a result, the airport's second runway has been closed, and will remain closed for the duration of the project.
This has caused some inconveniences, as it eliminates an alternative to the first runway if winds are not favorable there.
But the end result will be worth it, Arnold said. He said the project is bringing money into the community through its construction, and once completed, the community will have a more efficient airport.
“Pilots and businesses like more efficiency,” he said. “This project will make the airport safer and help corporations save money. These types of infrastructure improvements are great assets to an airport like this, which in turn is a great community asset that helps bring people here.”
Arnold is holding a meeting on the second Tuesday of every month to help inform the public on the project. The next meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. on June 12 in the airport's business center in the terminal.
The public also is welcome to attend the monthly airport advisory meeting held at 4 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month in the Montrose County Commissioner's boardroom.