Airport runway decision expected on Thursday

Carson City Airport Authority members are expected to decide Thursday on how to rebuild the airport's only runway.

Once a decision is made, the planning process will go on a fast track so that a new runway can be built by mid-November, said airport engineer Jim Clague.

The seven-member authority has yet to give a clear indication which of two options the majority will vote for. The authority put off making a decision in February.

One option calls for a new runway to run parallel to the current runway but about 60 to 100 feet to the north. The second option shifts the east end of the runway about 80 feet to the north.

A new runway is needed because several two-inch cracks in Runway 9-27 can't be repaired to meet the specifications of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA provided a $3.7 million grant that goes with a $231,000 city match to pay for runway and taxiway work.

Opinions have wavered between the two proposed options. The parallel runway has planes flying over the same neighborhood and would not allow for future runway extension.

The shifted runway will take airplanes away from the neighborhood due south of the airport and would offer room to make the runway longer at a future date. The Airport Authority, however, would have to buy about 18 acres of land and also remove a hill to build that runway.

Authority members Ron Kitchen and Will Fletcher a month ago showed little enthusiasm for the shifted, or skewed, runway.

"If we shift the runway, are we really gaining anything?" Kitchen asked in February.

Fletcher added: "All I see is a minute variance of what we have. We're not seeing a 15- or 20-degree shift. We're seeing a 3-degree shift."

Neither option requires condemnation of homes.

The authority has taken longer to decide on a runway than expected, but Clague still thinks the runway can be built within his time frame. Clague intends to start aerial mapping the day after a decision is made.

He still hopes to submit plans to the FAA by May 26 with construction to start around Aug. 7. Clague foresees runway work to end by Nov. 17.


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