Upgrades at Carson City airport expected to increase revenues | NevadaAppeal.com

Upgrades at Carson City airport expected to increase revenues

Rob Sabo
Nevada Appeal News Service
Published Caption: Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

A new landing system at the Carson City Airport will keep pilots flying in inclement weather, but the addition of an Instrument Approach Procedure system has been wracked with challenges.

The IAP required removal of an 80-foot hill ” approximately 80,000 cubic yards ” on the northeast corner of the airport, says interim airport manager Dirk Zahtilla. But the Northern Nevada geology provided a great deal more work than expected for general contractor Peavine Construction.

Work on the $3 million project, fully funded by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, was scheduled for completion in mid-December, Zahtilla says. But once work was under way Peavine Construction hit so much rock that it had to subcontract with a blasting company to shatter the hill.

“It put off completion 30 to 45 days,” Zahtilla says. “They hit massive rocks and a big rockbed. They have been blasting one to three times a week breaking rock to get it out. That slowed things down, but they are working really hard. When it was snowing they were out there working.”

The hill had to be removed to allow for instrument approach because it stood in the way of incoming planes if something went awry. Previously, pilots used a visual approach and could only use the airport in clear conditions. Work should be completed by the middle of January.

The addition of the IAP is just one segment of a $19 million plan to upgrade facilities at the airport by 2011. Improvements include:

– A new taxiway on the north side of the airport to eliminate planes taxiing across the runway.

– Regrading the runway so pilots can view its entire length.

– Widening the runway from 30 to 50 feet and realigning it.

– Lengthening safety areas at runway ends.

PBS&J of Reno is the engineer on the upgrades. Zahtilla says Peavine Construction has received a partial contract to move material to the southeast end of the airport for use as sub-base for the runway changes.

“It saves money on the rest of project, and it’s easier for them to stockpile the stuff right there where it is going to end up,” he says. Zahtilla also notes that as part of the federal economic stimulus package, funds for the upgrades may be in place sooner than 2011, and the FAA may provide 100 percent funding. And the improvements should help the airport draw large users, such as Jet Ranch, which in turn will increase tax revenues.

“The whole income base for the airport comes from land leases and property taxes,” Zahtilla says. “By improving the airport we are drawing and attracting bigger users that bring that property-tax revenue in here. Jet Ranch alone is estimated to double the revenues of the airport.”

Jet Ranch, the airport’s largest private aircraft facility, is a $10 million, state-of-the-art aircraft complex with hangers, office spaces, upscale pilot lounges and conference areas.