Sky Harbor Airport Continues Work to Move Runway, Preserve Trees

DULUTH, Minn. —

Some big changes happening at Sky Harbor Airport at the end of Park Point, and it all started with environmental concerns.

Crews began earlier this month on a project to rotate the runway, away from trees that are also at the end of the peninsula.

The tall pine forest is a highly protected scientific natural area, so airport management says they had to work out a place to preserve the trees.

“It’s an old growth forest so we could not go out there and just cut the trees,” said Sky Harbor Airport Manager Brian Madsen.  “So we invested time into looking at other alternatives and this is the alternative chosen.”

The pavement from the parallel taxiway has been removed, and the material underneath is being used as fill material.

“We’ve taken some of the native plants, taken them out of here, and they’re in a greenhouse,” Madsen guitar.  “That’s where they’re at currently.  Once the project’s completely done, we’ll bring them back here, replant them, and the native plants will continue to grow out here.”

Natalie Peterson, the marketing and communications director with the Duluth Airport Authority, says that this project is just as much about airport safety as it is about the environmental concerns.

“It’s a balance between both of those, which is really critical and unique for this project,” Peterson said. “It’s pretty impressive after 10 years of work to see this happening and to see this moving forward.  We really are appreciative of the Park Point community.”

Madsen says it’s been since the 1980s since any new pavement has been put down here.

The project is just in “Phase 1A” right now – the crews plan on having it done by the fall of 2019.

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