Work, funded by federal grant, expected to begin in September

Broomfield airport safety upgrades will impact Colo. 128 intersection

By Megan Quinn Enterprise Staff Writer

Posted: 06/07/2012 12:00:00 AM MDT

Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport will receive a federal grant to update runway safety measures, and the project could cause traffic delays when the project tentatively begins in September.

Rocky Mountain Metro Airport will receive a $4.05 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to start work on updated runway safety features. The project calls for moving the intersection of Colo. 128 and Interlocken Boulevard north about 400 feet, which will cause traffic delays after construction begins in the fall.

Airport director Kenny Maenpa said the airport expects to receive the grant sometime in the next week.

The airport must extend the runway safety area, or RSA, on the end of its 9,000-foot-long runway to meet recent changes to Federal Aviation Administration safety guidelines.

The proposed safety zone realignment would add about 400 feet to the RSA, which minimizes the damage to an aircraft if it overshoots or undershoots the runway in a takeoff or landing.

The extension does not lengthen the runway or add capacity for more planes.

The current RSA is not dangerous, but does not meet the FAA’s safety requirements, Maenpa said.

"An airport like ours is 50 years old, and requirements change," he said.

The project is meant to increase safety, but proposed boundaries of the expanded safety zone push out into the intersection of Colo. 128 and Interlocken Boulevard.

Colo. 128 must be "bent" north by approximately 400 feet to clear it from the safety zone, according to Georgiann Briggs, the airport’s development manager.

The $4.05 million grant will cover utility work and costs for acquiring 4.82 acres of land needed for the project, she said. The airport expects to receive another grant from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program to use for other construction phases of the project.

Exact costs were not yet available for the remainder of the work, Briggs said.

Another phase of the project is going out to bid in July, and work could start as early as September, Maenpa said.

Maenpa said the $4.05 million is a significant contribution to get the project going.

"It’s an expensive project, but you can’t put a price on safety," he said.

The airport is one of 17 airports in Colorado that received a total of $15.6 million in funding this week from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The money also will be used for infrastructure improvement projects, such as taxiway work in La Junta and construction of a new terminal in Grand Junction.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, congratulated the airports in a news release this week.

"Colorado’s regional airports form important links for businesses and travelers throughout the state," Udall said. "Improving Colorado’s transportation network is one of the most important things we can do to support our local communities and local businesses. These grants are important down payments on maintaining the connections that our global economy requires."

Maenpa said the airport is happy to receive local and federal backing on the safety project.

"Senators Udall and (Michael) Bennet have been great friends of aviation, and we appreciate their support," Maenpa said.

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