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Bellingham Airport Closure to Push Air Traffic to Skagit

Burlington – Skagit Regional Airport will be busier than normal during the first three weeks of September, while the runway at Bellingham International Airport is closed for paving.

The Bellingham airport paving is one of the final steps in the first full-length runway rehabilitation project in its history. While the Bellingham runway is closed, various commercial and aviation-related activities will shift to Skagit. Among the impacts are these:

  • FedEx will increase staffing and flights at its Skagit sort facility;
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection will operate aircraft from Skagit;
  • Northwest Sky Ferry will operate one airplane out of its Skagit terminal;
  • Chuckanut Flying Club will shift one of its airplanes to Skagit;
  • Seven Bellingham-based private pilots had reserved tie-down space at Skagit as of Aug. 25, and more are expected to sign up before the closure begins;
  • Several Bellingham-based corporate aircraft will fly in and out of Skagit.

The expected increase in traffic also will affect the schedule of a planned improvement project on Runway 10-28 at Skagit Regional Airport. The preliminary schedule called for completing Phase One of the project this year, but instead the Port of Skagit, which owns the airport, will start the project this year and finish it in 2011.

The first phase of construction will replace the runway’s failed under drain system with a new system located outside the boundaries of the runway pavement. Then a 2-inch-thick maintenance overlay, compatible with the pending crown conversion, will be placed on the runway to limit further deterioration of the surface. The Port of Skagit Commissioners awarded a contract for $2,533,826.30 to Interwest Construction Inc., Burlington, WA, for the first phase of construction.

The second phase of the 10-28 project, likely taking place during the summer of 2012, will convert the runway’s shed section into a crown section, shifting the highest part of the runway from the northern edge to the centerline. This will require raising the existing grade on the centerline by approximately 14 inches and will bring the runway into conformance with Federal Aviation Administration standards. At the same time, the eastern 1,500 feet of the runway will be raised approximately 5 feet to make it more compatible with aircraft currently using the airport.

Funding from the Federal Aviation Administration will cover 95 percent of the design and construction cost. In addition, the Washington State Department of Transportation has tentatively committed to paying a 2.5-percent share of the cost of Phase One. That means the Port’s share of the first phase of the project would total about $75,000.

If you are a reporter seeking information about the Port of Skagit, please call Andrew Entrikin, community outreach administrator, at 360-757-0011 or email andrew@portofskagit.com