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Alpena airport plans new renovations

ALPENA — As construction of a new terminal at Alpena County Regional Airport nears completion, plans are already being made for future projects.

At Thursday’s Alpena County Airport Committee meeting, Airport Manager Steve Smigelski said the airfield will likely be fully reconstructed and a new runway, taxiway, and sign lights installed over the next few years.

He said the runway project could begin in 2021 and the lights would be done concurrently, so the airport doesn’t need to be closed for portions of two consecutive years.

“We want to rehabilitate the main runway and repair cracks, breaks and sprawls, remark it, and bring it back to an almost-new condition,” Smigelski said. “We want to replace all of the lighting. What we have now was installed in the 1970s, and it is constantly breaking down. It is direct-bury cable and not in conduit, and, anytime there is a problem, it is a huge troubleshooting issue.”

Smigelski said a lot of the cost of the projects could be covered by the $1 million subsidy the airport receives each year from the Federal Aviation Administration if the airport exceeds 10,000 enplanements, which it has for many years.

At this point, “the FAA agrees with us that this needs to get done,” he said.

Smigelski said that, if things go as planned, the county shouldn’t have to pay for much of the cost of the future projects. He said the airport has a significant amount of money from passenger facility fees the airline pays the airport for each passenger who flies from Alpena.

Smigelski said the final stages of the terminal, a $12 million project covered mostly by federal funds, are being finished and consultant RS&H will be in town Monday and Tuesday to go over punch-list items. They will return early in January to be sure the items on the list are fixed. He said everything is on track to have the first flight from the new terminal on Jan.16.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place in the spring, when some of the last minute parking lot and exterior work is finished.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.