Work on expanding the Alberni Valley Regional Airport runway began earlier this week, according to Bowerman Excavating owner Craig Bowerman.
The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District board had voted unanimously at the end of March to award the $4.2 million airport expansion contract to Bowerman Excavating.
“Today was the first day. We’re just starting a little bit of demolition work, we’re just moving fences today,” Bowerman said on Monday.
“By early next week there will be a lot of dirt moving. We’ll be there till the end of October.”
The runway extension will lengthen the 3,952 by 75 foot runway to 5,000 by 100 feet. The length will be gained by extending the runway to the east.
According to ACRD airport superintendent Mark Fortune, the runway will remain operational for now, just at a shorter length.
“We’ll be using markings and cones to separate the runway operations from the workers off site,” said Fortune.
“We’ll be operating a shortened version of the runway for a month-and-a-half to two months until such a time that the widening takes place adjacent to the current operational runway.”
The new shortened runway will be approximately 2,200 feet and start at the western end of the runway, near Dolan’s pit. Fortune said that smaller planes like Cessna 172s and 185s will continue to be able to fly in and out of the airport.
After the widening is complete, the runway will be closed down during the summer to allow for paving.
“When we come to the point that we have to pave the entire runway we’re going to have to shut the whole thing down.”
As they use helicopters, the Thunderbirds fire crew will be able to operate out of the AVRA throughout the expansion.