Colorado Public Works Journal, Winter 2024

WINTER 2023┃15 rt lot to make safe flight possible While DEN happens to be the third busiest airport in the United States, the volume of air traffic doesn’t trickle down. At a regional airport like GJT a broad range of users from all spheres of aviation is essential. “The airport is 93 years old, so it’s been a part of this community for a long, long time. We take pride in supporting traditional general aviation, perhaps small businesses or people who fly as a hobby,” says Padalecki. “We have one tenant who has been here for 65 years. He has had a flight school, an aviation business offering tiedowns, and taught three generations of his family to fly here. So, it’s neat to be a part of an airport with such a rich history.” The differences in a flight’s purpose and cargo obviously impact the size and weight capacity of the various aircraft flying in and out of GJT and which of the airport’s two runways pilots must use. Presently, the airport relies on 11/29, a 10,500-ft runway for commercial flights, and uses the smaller 4/22, which is 5,500-ft long, for general aviation purposes. In the long term, GJT is investing some $150 million in a new runway to replace the aging 11/29, but that process is expected to extend until 2030. For Padalecki and her team, the challenge remains always keeping the airport’s runways and facilities in the best possible working order. “Runway 4/22, the smaller of the two, is a crosswind runway used all of the time by our general aviation community,” continues Padalecki. “4/22 was suffering from substantial cracking in the pavement due to the weather, use, and time. The runway needed a complete mill and overlay. 4/22 is ineligible for Federal grants, and most of the airport’s cash is tied-up with the big runway project, which started in 2018 and has seven more years to go.” Federal funding provided by the FAA generally requires a 90/10 community match for capital improvement projects but only invests in runways that meet specific parameters related to commercial use. “4/22 wasn’t eligible for federal funding due to its size and location. The cost of rehabilitating it was $4.5 million. The airport’s net