Airport board picks a runway option but still needs $1 million

The Carson City Airport Authority still needs to find more than $1 million to build the new runway it approved Thursday with a 4-3 vote.

The majority of the board voted against public opinion as well as Mayor Ray Masayko, an authority member, in selecting a runway alignment that would shift the east end of the runway about 200 feet to the north.

The authority decision still needs the approval of the Carson City Board of Supervisors as well as the willingness of the Federal Aviation Administration to supply at least $1 million more in grant funding.

Without supervisor or FAA approval, the authority majority acknowledged it would fall back to the more popular option that would rebuild the runway parallel to the existing runway but about 75 feet to the north.

A $3.7 million FAA grant would cover the cost to build the parallel runway, known as Alternate F, said airport engineer Jim Clague.

Very preliminary estimates for the chosen runway alignment, known as Alternate E, are $5 million and that doesn't include the cost for up to 18 acres that may have to be bought from developer John Serpa, Clague said.

Clague told authority members he would try to find out if the FAA would be willing to give Carson City an additional grant to cover the difference. He said he hoped to have an answer before the April 6 Board of Supervisors meeting.

Authority members wrestled with public opinion, cost, future visions and construction inconveniences presented by both alternatives. The members decided the future vision was more beneficial than the parallel runway, although several airport area residents favored it.

The skewed runway, however, allows for future extension of what is envisioned as a 6,100-foot runway. A runway shifted to the north also offers better safety for surrounding neighborhoods, airport officials said.

Authority chairman David Corrao broke a 3-3 tie after more than an hour of discussion closely monitored by an audience of more than 100 people.

"Alternate E in my mind provides a lot of the needs for the Airport Authority not only for the immediate future but also for the distant future," Corrao said. "My big concern, more than anything, is the safety of the neighborhood and the pilots."

Masayko's concern focused on making sure the runway can be built this year to avoid the chance of losing the FAA grant funding already committed to the project, which is already a year behind schedule.

"Although my intellect tells me to go with Alternative E," the mayor said, "I'm persuaded by the constituents (in the audience). Alternative F, to be honest with you, stance a (better) chance of being done this year. My vote's for F."

Authority members Ron Kitchen and Steve Melsheimer joined Masayko in the minority.

"I would have to vote for Alternative F as well, mainly because of the cost," Melsheimer said. "I can't in my mind justify the additional cost of going with Alternative E for the benefits of what it would provide. The only benefit I see is future expansion."

Authority members Brad Graber, Ray Alcorn and Will Fletcher voted for the costlier runway alignment that would shift it to the northeast.

"After mulling over the proposals, I feel option E has more promise," Fletcher said. "Slightly skewing the runway would give us a slightly better operational airport."

"If we go with Alternative F," Alcorn said, "I think we're being shortsighted because we can't see that far out (into the future). I think Alternative E gives us more flexibility."

"I really think Alternative E provides a significant increase in safety for the planes that use the airport now," Graber said.


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