Runway work ends this weekPublished 11:28am Monday, October 1, 2012
The Fergus Falls airport is undergoing some much-needed improvements this week as crews work to mill and resurface a taxiway and runway. The work was made possible by federal and state grant dollars, which Fergus Falls had to meet with a 10 percent match.
“It’s important to our aviation community as well as to economic commerce,” said Public Works Director Anne Martens.
The federal government is providing approximately $829,500, with Minnesota kicking in about $596,600. Fergus Falls will be spending about $92,100 out of its airport capital improvement funds. Both the taxiway and runway surfaces were deteriorating after years of use.
Construction started Thursday and is expected to be completed by the end of this week. Martens said the work is being fast-tracked in order to bring both runways into full use as soon as possible.
Airport Manager Curt Malecha said the secondary runway, known as Runway 17/35, is important to pilots because the runway stretches north/south instead of east/west. While the prevailing winds usually come from the northwest, allowing pilots to easily land on the regular runway, a plane could be thrown slightly off-course if it landed on an east/west runway while the wind was blowing directly from the north. On days like that, it’s much more convenient for pilots to land on the secondary runway, and Malecha said it’s an amenity pilots appreciate when they fly in.
“Corporations often come in this way on private jets, too,” he added.
In addition to about 50 privately-owned planes that regularly fly out of the airport, the facility sees a fair amount of arrivals and departures from people who are in Fergus Falls on business. Malecha listed companies like UPS, Green Plains Renewable Energy and the various incarnations of the local baking facilities’ owners as some people who have used the airport as a convenient way to conduct local business.
Other private entities fly into the airport to utilize the region’s lakes.
“We’re really lucky in Fergus Falls to have the airport facility that we have,” said Malecha.