Nolan Proposes Duluth Airport Runway Reconstruction

Estimated Cost is $20 Million

U.S. Rep Rick Nolan announced he is calling on Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to support reconstruction of the main runway at the Duluth International Airport.

The concrete pavement on Runway 9/27 has been in place since the 1940s and recent geotechnical studies have indicated that it is reaching the end of it useful life.

“The Duluth International Airport is critical to our ability to attract new businesses, create new jobs and bring tourists to our region from all over the nation and the world,” Nolan said. “Moreover, as home to the 148th Fighter Wing, the airport is an important component of national security. As I’ve told Secretary of Transportation Foxx, this major runway reconstruction will go a long way toward preserving sustainable air commerce growth and freedom of movement for all who use the airport for many years to come, and I’ll continue to do everything in my power to see that federal funding is approved.”

Read the letter in full below.
May 18, 2015

The Honorable Anthony Foxx
Secretary of Transportation
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary Foxx:

I write in support of a 2016 reconstruction of Runway 9/27, the main runway at the Duluth International Airport (DLH) in my district, which is in need of a major reconstruction effort in the very near future to provide safe and reliable runway infrastructure for civil and military aircraft operations. At 10,162 feet in length, this runway at DLH serves commercial, military, and general aviation operations. The concrete pavement on Runway 9/27 has been in place since the 1940s and recent geotechnical studies have indicated that it is reaching the end of its useful life.

One of the challenges during any reconstruction would be the displacement of the 148th Fighter Wing, located in Duluth. I have recently learned that the 148th Fighter Wing is expected to deploy in April of 2016 for a period of three to six months, and will likely take the majority of their aircraft with them on this deployment. Without the military presence at the airport, a unique opportunity presents itself to reconstruct the middle 6,200 feet of Runway 9/27. The F16 is extremely susceptible to foreign object debris (FOD) which can be more prevalent during construction. Reconstructing the middle section of Runway 9/27 while the 148th is offsite also relieves the need for a costly temporary relocation of the fighter wing during construction.
The current air carrier fleet mix can be accommodated on the existing crosswind runway of 5,700 feet in length. While the regularly scheduled air carriers servicing Duluth (Delta and United) are moving away from 50-seat regional jets, they have not divested themselves of them to this point. The current fleet mix can be accommodated during the limited period of construction in 2016.

The estimated total project cost for this project is $20,000,000. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has indicated support for the project under the condition that the project schedule be condensed, with final design, plans and specifications developed and in place for an August 2015 bid opening. An FAA discretionary grant would be issued in September of 2015 to provide funding for 90% of the eligible work components. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) Office of Aeronautics has also expressed support for the project, with potential additional contribution of up to half of the 10%, or an additional $1,000,000. The remaining local contribution for the project is approximately $1,000,000 and would be funded with either passenger facility charge collections or a State of Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development appropriation.

I’m requesting your support in allocating airport improvement program (AIP) discretionary dollars, up to $18 million, to this high priority project. This is a timely opportunity to reconstruct an important piece of infrastructure within my district. Completing the proposed reconstruction in the coming months will go a long way to preserving sustainable air commerce growth and freedom of movement for all who would use the Duluth International Airport for many years to come.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Richard M. Nolan
Member of Congress
 

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