Planning is in the final stages for a federally funded $3 million runway project at Wiscasset Municipal Airport. The project will go out to bid by early April. David Nadeau, senior associate of Stantec, briefed airport advisory committee members on the project Wednesday, March 24 in the airport’s administration building at 96 Chewonki Neck Road.
Nadeau provided a set of project plans that await final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA requires the project be bid out before the grant process proceeds. Work would begin sometime this summer and take an estimated 49 days. “Until the FAA issues the grant, we don’t know when we can start work. Typically, they do this in mid-July,” said Nadeau.
The work includes recycling the current runway pavement and adding a new layer of asphalt to it. Aircraft taxi-ways will be widened to comply with FAA recommendations. Runway lighting will be replaced with LED fixtures; new signage and striping are also planned along with drainage improvements. Nadeau recommended the committee consider adding a protective surface sealant to the runway after the work is completed.
The project will result in about a two-month closure of the airport in the height of summer. Committee member Ervin Deck said the runway work was long overdue, having been put off for years. With federal stimulus dollars flowing into Maine, now was certainly the time to do the project, he told Wiscasset Newspaper.
Town Manager Dennis Simmons told the committee the select board would be adding a warrant article allowing for the lease of airport property for the planned Cenergy solar project.
Simmons said the project needed voter approval before selectmen could finalize it. He noted at the select board’s request Cenergy agreed to put up a decommission fee. If the project goes forward, Cenergy, of Carlsbad, California, would lease the land for $53,000 a year, the monies to be used to offset costs of the airport. The firm is proposing similar projects in Waterville and Augusta, said Simmons.
Airport Manager Rick Tetrev said February had been a busy month with test borings and a survey of the runway. The borings were needed to determine the depth of the excavation needed, he wrote in his monthly report. “They came at 6 in the morning and finished at sundown,” he wrote.
The airport office will remain open by appointment through April. The airport has been open to air traffic and self-service fuel throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The committee re-elected Steve Williams chairman. The other members are Deck, Pam Brackett and Ray Soule.