SCHENECTADY COUNTY — A $10 million runway and taxiway paving project at the Schenectady County Airport will go forward, even though costs have shot upward by more than $1 million since planning began, county officials have decided.
The rehabilitation of the airport’s 7,000-foot main north-south runway will be the first major upgrade to the Glenville airport’s runway in decades. County officials said it will preserve the facility’s ability to handle large military aircraft like the C-130 cargo planes now based there.
The County Legislature’s Committee on Public Facilities on Monday approved a new agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration and financing revised to account for the higher costs. The increases are because of higher asphalt and diesel costs compared to when costs were first estimated last year, county officials said. The county’s share of the project’s cost — 5 percent — comes to a little over $400,000.
The projected cost of the rehabilitating the runway — known as Runway 4-22 — has risen from $4.8 million to $5.95 million since last year, while the cost of rehabbing Taxiway C has risen from an estimated $3.65 million last year to nearly $4.2 million.
Approval by the full County Legislature next week should allow construction to begin this fall, officials said.
Work on the taxiway could start this fall, said county Director of Public Works Joe Ryan, though the major runway reconstruction wouldn’t start until spring. That work is likely to continue through much of the year, as contractors work around efforts to keep the airport open during the work. The airport has a shorter east-west runway, but it isn’t suitable for heavy military loads.
“I’m guessing by the time we do all the phasing, it will be into the fall,” Ryan told county legislators on Monday. “All of the projects will be done by the end of 2019.”
The airport doesn’t have scheduled commercial airline service, but plays a major role in the local economy in part because the Stratton Air National Guard Base with its fleet of C-130 aircraft is based there. The 109th Air National Guard Wing has the only ski-equipped C-130s in the country — planes that are used to supply scientific research missions in the Antarctic during the northern winter.
Because of the military use, th U.S. Air Force will pay $1.2 million toward the runway construction project and $714,000 toward the taxiway improvements. That’s up from the $1.35 million the Department of Defense originally allocated.
“We are very fortunate to have the Air Force’s participation,” Ryan said.
The National Guard base is on the other side of the airport from its commercial operations, but both military and private aircraft use the same runway.
Of the cost not being covered by the Air Force, the FAA will be paying 90 percent, and New York state and the county will each pay 5 percent. The FAA has already signed off on the project despite the higher cost.
The higher costs, however, mean the county’s share of the runway project will increase from $172,500 to $237,409. The county’s share of rehabbing the taxiway will increase from $144,700 to $172,513.
County Legislative Majority Leader Gary E. Hughes, D-Schenectady, said the money will be borrowed as part of the county’s 2019 capital improvement program.