airport construction

Though work at a remodeled terminal at Friedman Memorial Airport will not be completed, the building is scheduled to be reopened by May 20.

     Construction at Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey is on schedule, and the runway and a remodeled terminal should be reopened as planned on May 20 at noon, the Airport Authority board was told Tuesday.

     “It’s just unbelievable what’s going on out there,” airport Manager Rick Baird said. “It’s changing every hour.”

     While the runway is closed from April 26 to May 20, contractors are removing the remainder of the east side taxiway that parallels state Highway 75, moving the north half of the west-side taxiway 70 feet farther west (the south half was moved last spring), demolishing six private-plane hangars and reconfiguring the public parking lot. In addition, work continues on expanding and remodeling the terminal to move boarding gates from its east side to its north side.

     The work is part of a two-year, $34 million project intended to bring the airport into compliance with federal safety standards regarding separation between the runway and taxiways.

     Consulting engineer Dave Mitchell told board members that more than 100 people are working on the project at one time.

     “There’s a lot happening on top of each other—that’s the only way we can do it,” he said.

     He said almost all the employees working on the terminal, hired by Conrad Brothers Construction, are local.

     Company owner Paul Conrad said different shifts of workers are on the job between 14 and 16 hours per day, seven days a week, with mechanical-system workers beginning each day at 4 a.m.

     “We are burning it at both ends right now,” he said.

     Paving of the new taxiway, by Knife River Corp., began Wednesday.

     “They have the resources and the organization to get the job done,” Mitchell said.

     In addition, asphalt on the upper public parking lot will be “rejuvenated” with an oily material absorbed into its surface to extend its lifespan. The original plan was to repave the lot, but in mid-April, the board rejected the only bid for that project as being too high.

     Expansion of the terminal is eliminating 45 parking spaces, but reconfiguring of the spaces by changing diagonal parking to straight-in parking will result in a net gain of 30 spaces.

     Once the passenger waiting area is moved to the north side of the terminal, the south end will be converted to a conference room, a public lounge and offices for the federal Transportation Security Administration. Mitchell said that work will be done sometime after May 20.

     “There’s just too much going on to do it now,” he said.

Email the writer: gmoore@mtexpress.com

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