CARLSBAD — Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar Airport is well on its way to becoming a state-of-the-art facility as construction crews work to resurface the outdated runway.
“We’re really looking forward to Palomar Airport becoming a jewel in the aviation community,” said Michael Drake from the county’s Department of Public Works.
Following recent work to the airport’s terminal and restaurant, the first of five scheduled construction phases to update the runway began May 9. Despite a late start due to weather delays, crews finished early and the airport reopened ahead of schedule.
“If the FFA (Federal Aviation Administration) conducts its inspection and signs off on it, we’ll open the airport early,” Drake said. “However, we will close it again at the prescheduled time — that’s going to stay consistent.”
Construction is expected to continue through July with a one week off, one week on schedule. The final phase, from July 11 to Aug. 27, will take place solely at night to prevent further delays to the airport’s commercial customers.
“They’re going to be striping the runway, and some sort of grinding,” he said. “They’ll open it again in the morning.”
When the county was first looking at sprucing up the runway, they were debating whether to do the whole project at one time or to do it in phases. Opting for phases, contractors could bid to start the project, and additional proposals were accepted to complete the construction when possible, Drake said.
“We had planned to do the first two phases, because that’s what we had the money for,” he said. “We had the bid for proposal finished and sent out.”
However, the FAA said that if contracts were in place by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2009, they would pick up the tab of the approximately $8 million project, Drake said.
The county diligently worked to get a contract and secure the FAA funds, and has been happily working with Hazard Construction since then, Drake said.
Although some may question the decision to repave the runway as the summer season begins, the Department of Public Works has ensured that the construction phases will impact as few passengers as possible.
“We had to do it sometime,” he said. “Right now, the FAA money became available, so why wait? It’s saving the county taxpayers money.”
Carlsbad residents can keep tabs on the airport construction schedule at the county’s Department of Public Works Twitter account, www.twitter.com/sdcountydpw.