Colorado Public Works Journal, Spring-Summer 2019

Spring-Summer 2019 49 Shortly after becoming Lake County Regional Airport’s newest manager, Brett Cottrell is overseeing one of the largest improve- ment projects in its history. The project includes rehabilitating runway and taxiway pavement, widening the turnaround for jets, and installing LED lights in the airfield. “It’s time we entered the 21st century,” Cottrell told Colorado Public Works Journal in an interview. “We were built in 1962. The county has done a pretty good job of keeping up with the general maintenance of the place, but it’s time we upgraded our operating equipment.” As one of Colorado’s General Aviation airports, Lake County Regional Airport plays a unique role in the state’s airport system. It serves a wide variety of aviation companies who use the airport to test their equipment at high altitudes, and offers small jets a welcome relief to use if Eagle Airport is too busy. Cottrell is matchlessly qualified to oversee this overhaul as well. He spent 28 years in the Navy as an aviator, rising to the rank of Captain. During that time, he served several deployments aboard USS Hayler and USS Caron in support of Middle Eastern Forces and Blue Harrier Operations. “Our name isn’t in the vocabulary of those who fly into Eagle in order to spend a weekend skiing Vail or Breckenridge,” Cottrell said. “But, it will be soon.” Project Details The project will be conducted in three phases. Phase 1 includes repaving Runway 16-34, Taxiways B1, B2, B3, and D, and updat- ing the airfield lighting system to meet current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards. Contractors plan to mill out four inches of old asphalt on Runway 16-34 to make way for five inches of PG 64-34 asphalt to be laid on top. According to a 2015 inspection by the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics (DOA), a vast majority of pavement at the airport measured less than a 50 on the Pavement Condition Index (PCI), meaning it was nearing its last breath. A few sections measured less than 40. “Whenever an aircraft comes down our runway, we can all hear the thud thud thud of its tires rolling over the cracks,” Lake County Road and Bridge Director Brad Palmer told us. Taxiway rehabilitation work includes demolition, drainage installation, placement of aggregate base course, asphalt paving, pavement markings, shoulder grading, runway edge lighting, vault equipment relocation, homerun duct bank, taxiway reflectors, seeding, and erosion control. To upgrade the lighting equipment, contractors will replace the outdated runway edge lights with new LED lights, upgrade the runway signage, and maintain the airfield vault. This project won’t be without its problems, however. A main one is the airport’s remote location which makes it difficult to source construction materials, and the area’s short construction season. The area can also experience freezing temperatures up to 278 days out of the year. The record low on July night is 28 degrees, according to The Weather Channel. Phase 2 of the project will rehabilitate the pavement overlay on Taxiway A1 and E. Taxiways A1 and E will be finished during Phase 3 while Taxiway A is also rehabilitated. Crews will keep the non-lighted signing while replacing the old lighted signing on the taxiway. They will also replace the retroreflective edge markers which outline the edge of the taxi- ways and runways. Cottrell said this project won’t allow the airport to land commercial flights, though he left open the possibility of that happening in the future. The runway will likely be closed from June to October this year, but helicopters will still be allowed to use their helipads.