Airport work delayed until March

Inclement weather forced the runway expansion program to cease in the fall.

The Alberni Valley Regional Airport will remain closed to air traffic until at least March, after inclement weather forced the runway expansion program to cease in the fall.

“The airport remains closed at this time,” Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District CAO Russell Dyson confirmed.

“We are waiting on favourable weather in order to complete the final overlay pavement for the whole runway.”

That means they need a period of warm, dry weather. “We’re hoping for that in March,” Dyson said.

Underlay paving was already completed on the runway extension and to the edges of the existing pavement, but a top layer covering everything is required. “We need particular weather over a period of days to get that done,” Dyson explained.

The wet weather in September and October precluded the final paving. It also caused the regional district some pain over siltation running off the work site, forcing the contractor to do some remediation, Dyson said.

The remediation was done to make sure silt from the work site didn’t end up in creeks or the Stamp River, Dyson added.

Another issue that has arisen deals with an industrial road on the north end of the runway that leads from Coulson Aviation, around the back of the airport and provides access to Island Timberlands land, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure property, Verbrugge’s Christmas tree farm and Dolan’s gravel pit.

“That road needs to be lowered,” Dyson said.

The road, a statutory right-of-way approximately 3,500 feet long and crosses the approach to the northeast end of the runway, exceeds Transport Canada’s obstacle limitation surface specifications, he said. This area needs to be maintained to certain specs for aircraft to approach or take off from the airport.

“Where there are trees or vegetation or land use, that needs to be maintained.”

“Ultimately, the road has to be below that surface. We’ve done extensive designs to make sure it meets the technical requirements of the runway.”

The airport was initially supposed to reopen for air traffic in October, after crews spent the summer working on the extension. The project was extended in terms of time, but Dyson said the project will still be done within budgetary limits.

The airport lighting project, which was funded separately from the runway extension, is also progressing. Contractor Raylec Power has had site meetings with the regional district, Dyson said, and some of the lighting work—procuring equipment and trenching—can be done now.

The lighting portion of the airport improvements was always slated to be completed in 2017, he added.