Funding OK’d for Sawyer International Airport consulting fees

March 13, 2018


Sawyer International Airport
Crews battle in excess of 84 days of snowfall per season (more than Steamboat Springs, CO; Nome, AK; Buffalo, NY; Duluth, MN; etc). In fact, Sawyer operations are best compared to neighboring Canadian airports. Armed with some of the best trained operators and equipment, Sawyer Airport aims to prevent flight cancellations and make winter operations appear routine.

The Marquette County Board of Commissioners approved funding consulting fees related to a grant that would provide money for new snow removal equipment and concrete apron repairs at Sawyer International Airport.

A large portion of the grant, with an anticipated award date in August, would fund a high-speed snow broom for the airport.

“This is a piece of equipment we have applied for back in November of 2017 through the Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program grant,” said Duane DuRay, Sawyer airport manager.

He explained that the grant will provide about $950,000 in funding for 2018, with around $759,000 covering the snow broom purchase.

DuRay said the airport will need to use their consulting firm, Mead & Hunt, to get specific bids from snow broom manufacturers to provide an accurate cost estimate to the FAA.

The airport is asking the county board to fund the cost of the consulting services, at $12,875, so the exact cost of the equipment can be included in its final application. DuRay explained the contract is covered under the grant, with any money already allocated to be credited to the local share at the end of the project.

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He explained that under the new regulations, ice, wet ice or ice with snow on the runway can all lead to automatic runway shutdowns, regardless of adding sand to increase traction, as the airport had done in years past.

DuRay said that it’s likely the high-speed snow broom will allow faster cleanup of the runway, which could prevent or at least reduce future closure times.

The board unanimously approved the snow removal equipment bid specification agreement.

Commissioners also discussed the professional service agreement for the terminal apron concrete slab repair, which DuRay said is the “second half” of the airport improvement grant application.

He explained that there are roughly 80 acres of concrete in front of the commercial terminal building at the airport, a portion of which is starting to migrate to the north, putting stress on the south side of the terminal building. Engineers have speculated that freeze-thaw cycles and expansion cycles over the seasons have led to the migration.

DuRay said that while this project will not permanently solve the problem, it will help reduce stress upon the apron and the building in coming years.

“(This project) is designed to go in, cut out some of the problem slabs, put further expansion joints in it to eliminate the stresses, both on the terminal building and on the apron … It’s probably going to give us eight to 10 years on the stress reoccurring.”

For this project, the airport needs to have its consulting firm, Mead & Hunt, do the engineering and design, as well as seek bids for the project so an accurate estimate in the final grant application can be provided.

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