South Lake Tahoe airport receives grant for ramp improvements |

South Lake Tahoe airport receives grant for ramp improvements

Eric Heinz

South Lake Tahoe City Council approved a resolution to accept grant money from the Federal Aviation Administration for improvements to the municipality’s airport during its meeting Tuesday.

The vote passed unanimously.

The grant provides $1,042,000 for repairs to a portion of the general aviation ramp of the airport, where airplanes are docked. The city’s match of the grant is $115,780, according to the resolution, which was a required cost to receive the grant.

A council staff report attached to the resolution stated a California Department of Transportation study gave the ramp a failing grade in 2012.

Much of the ramp’s surface is fractured and the asphalt is brittle. Some portions have scattered clumps of asphalt.

“What happens is when it get as bad as it is, whole chunks are coming out,” airport manager Shelly Miller said. “When planes go over it, the prop wash or rotor wash from a helicopter can pick up those pieces of asphalt and launch them. Jets can ingest them into the engine. It’s a safety hazard, and (the improvements are) way overdue.”

New asphalt will be put into the ramp area, and a drainage swale will be replaced. “We’re also going to change (raise) the grade of the far east corner because right now it floods,” Miller said. “There’s a drainage pipe and it gets flooded, and the water comes onto the ramp.”

The duration of the first phase is yet to be determined.

Miller said the amount of traffic that comes into the airport on a daily basis is hard to determine as it fluctuates throughout the year.

“This year, we’ve been really busy,” she said. “This is kind of unusual for us. There’s a lot of airplanes out there for this time of year.”

Airport officials have planned improvements in three phases, and this grant will pay for the first.

The project size will be 135,000 square feet, according to the blueprints. The project is scheduled to start sometime after May 1, as the construction period in the Tahoe area ends in less than two months. Miller said that would not be enough time to start and close out the project.

Under Tahoe Regional Planning Agency ordinances, no more than 3 cubic square feet of soil can be disturbed between May 1 and Oct. 15, with the exception of emergencies.

Large sections of the ramp are to be closed off during construction, but officials plan to have areas for aircraft accessibility.

“We try to do something every year,” Miller said, adding the airport needs to acquire the funding to match for grants in order to do so.

Phase II will take place on the northern end of the airport’s ramp. Construction bids were completed Aug. 16, and it has been awarded to the apparent lowest responsive bidder, Contractors Incorporated, Miller said.

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