Construction project to lengthen main runway

By Angie Baldelomar

Construction on the extension of the south end of the main runway at the Oberlin Municipal Airport has been underway the last couple of weeks.

The project will add 800 feet to the south end of the main runway. Airport manager Britton Scott said this may be used for takeoff on either direction, giving pilots more room during the summer when heat limits lift, and for landing to the south only.

Right now, the runway length is 3,798 feet long, he said, but with the south end closed for construction only 2,922 feet are usable.

Mr. Scott said the runway originally was 4,300 feet before the city, acting on advice from the Federal Aviation Administration and from a former engineering firm, removed 600 feet on the south to create a safety zone for the highway and the fairground. That project added just 30 feet on the north, where a steep grade limits expansion. That contract, which involved removing all the pavement and replacing it with new asphalt, failed to remove the hump in the middle which limits visibility on the ground.

The new runway area won’t be available for landing from the south, Mr. Scott said, creating the required safety zone. This zone would be marked off with paint and touchdown bars located to the north of the restricted area.

Diane Hofer, project engineer from Olsson and Associates, said that the cost for the project is $818,000. A grant by the Federal Aviation Administration is paying for 90 percent of the cost, she said. This money comes from aviation fuel and ticket taxes, she said.

The city of Oberlin is paying for the other 10 percent, Mrs. Hofer said. She also said the project includes installing a new beacon, a rotating light that indicates the airport’s location to pilots at night.

The contractor for the project is Smoky Hills Heavy Contractors of Salina, with vice president Scott Erickson in charge.

Mr. Scott said the completion date is Sept 1, but that he thinks they will beat that.

The story was published on page 3A of The Oberlin Herald‘s print edition on August 3, 2016.


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