$1 million runway work is delayed | TahoeDailyTribune.com

$1 million runway work is delayed

Susie Vasquez

Belinda Grant/Tribune News Service The state of repairs needed at Minden-Tahoe Airport can be seen from the door of a fire tanker on the Tarmac.

MINDEN – A $1 million runway overlay project at the Minden-Tahoe Airport will be delayed until next spring, following Douglas County commissioners decision not to accept a bid from Sierra Nevada Construction.

The primary questions revolve around organization of the bid.

The first two phases of the contract, which included setting up and the runway grinding work, were too high. Costs for the third phase were too low. All four companies bidding on the project used the same tactic, said County Manager Dan Holler.

“They (bidders) all want their money up front, to give themselves working capital,” he said. “They think it doesn’t make any difference to the county.”

Airport Manager Jim Braswell said the county was not getting as much done on the project as they would like, before he recommended rejection of the bid.

“If we walk through all the issues, we can reject some projects and re-bid,” he said. “The chance we take is losing the funding completely.”

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The complete set of projects includes two FAA grants, one to finance $1.5 million for the runway overlay and reconstruction of taxiway D, a 600-foot east-west artery between the hangars.

The second grant would be used to build a new road, airport gates and fencing, for a total of $971,007.

The bid totaled $2,493,904 and the FAA grants will pay 95 percent of the costs, the rest to be paid with matching airport funds.

Weight restriction issues and also prompted the decision, said County Manager Dan Holler.

A county ordinance passed in 1984 limits the weight of planes using the Minden-Tahoe Airport to no more than 30,000 pounds for single-wheel plane. A second condition put the weight limit for dual-wheel planes at 50,000 pounds in 1992.

Fire bombers and military aircraft are the only exceptions to the rule, Braswell said.

Since these airport improvements are funded by grant money, the question remains as to whether the FAA will pay for improvements that could strengthen the airport runway if heavier planes are not allowed.

“We don’t know whether the FAA will need to review the weight limits,” Holler said. “So the issue was put off to a future date.”

Braswell said the preliminary repairs for the overlay were completed two years ago. The existing surface will be recycled by grinding it up before the new asphalt overlay is applied.