Colorado Public Works Journal, Winter 2024

16┃ Colorado Public Works Journal operating income is less than $2 million a year. We couldn’t spend three years’ income rehabilitating it,” shares Padalecki of the fiscal juggling act that would have been impossible to pull off alone. “This is where our partnership with the Colorado Division of Aeronautics comes into play. We could not have done it without them.” As the aviation branch of the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Aeronautics Division plays a distinct role in funding the state’s flightfocused infrastructure. Director David Ulane, A.A.E., FRAeS (see Industry Insights in this issue) has been at the helm for eight and a half years and takes pride in the role his dedicated team plays in assessing airport needs and allocating funding statewide. “Our division oversees a lot of moving pieces, with a very small team,” says Ulane of his directive to support Colorado’s multi-modal transportation system by advancing a safe, efficient, and effective statewide aviation system through collaboration, investment, and advocacy. “The changing conditions we face range from Colorado’s weather to the political figures in the communities surrounding each of the 66 public-use airports we invest in. We do not see them simply as airports, we see them as one piece of an entire system of airports. A lot of the priority is system related, rather than airport specific.” Ulane points out that the challenges facing runways, taxiways, and pavements in general in Colorado are extensive and expensive. At elevation, pavements weather much quicker, and in places where there is substantial snow, there is frequent snow removal, both of which combine to degrade surface conditions year-over-year. “Colorado is one of the few states that has a state-staffed pavement inspection program,” says Ulane of one of many distinguishing characteristics of Colorado’s aeronautical governance. “We have three regional planners who coordinate with airports in particular parts of the state. They know the personnel, the operational needs, the condition of the pavements on runways and taxiways, and the details that make each airport unique and vital within the overall system.”