On Monday May 14th the largest airport construction project in the last 20 years is slated to break ground. According to airport manager Ben Vardiman, the long anticipated Airport Runway Runway Safety Area Improvement Project will bring the airport into compliance with FAA standards. “The most significant improvements will be the relocation of the runway by approximately 400 feet and the placement of the open drainage ditch into a culvert system. The work is anticipated to be completed toward the end of November,” says Vardiman.
“In the airport environment, safety is a high priority,” adds Vardiman. “This is reflected in the standards which exist and govern airport development and operation. These standards provide for a layered approach to safety in the design and layout as well as the operation of an airport.”
One of the most critical layers of safety can be found immediately surrounding the runway. Known as a Runway Safety Area (RSA), this improvement is in place to minimize both injury to persons and damage to aircraft when that aircraft inadvertently leaves the runway surface. Prescott currently has three runways with the primary runway being Runway 21L-03R. This runway, says Vardiman, requires a safety area width of 250 feet off of each side of the runway and 1000 feet off each end of the runway. Currently, it does not meet existing requirements.
In 2005, the City conducted a Runway Safety Area evaluation at the airport which recommended shifting the runway. Since 2005, other components have been identified as being necessary to bring the Runway Safety Area up to current safety requirements. “These issues were identified and incorporated into the planning for this project,” explains Vardiman.