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Plattsburgh airport closed for runway upgrades

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 4:43 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2021 at 6:05 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - Flights at the Plattsburgh International Airport will be grounded for the next two months for renovation work. The airport says the closure all comes down to safety.

The Plattsburgh airport looks different these days. Instead of seeing planes, you’re seeing contractors and heavy machinery.

“We would have been doing this regardless of a pandemic,” said Chris Kreig of the Plattsburgh International Airport.

The airport needed to close down to complete part of a paving project that will keep the pilots, planes and people working on the runway safe.

“The age of the runway, the age of the concrete-- it needs to be replaced,” Kreig said.

The airport is a former Air Force base and only has one runway. It’s suspected the concrete is original, making it close to 70 years old.

The project first started in 2008 and this is the final leg of replacing the 11,000-foot runway.

Over the next two months, contractors will rip up 8,000 feet of concrete-- that’s about 2 miles worth-- crush it up as a sub-base and add 5 inches of asphalt to the top.

Reusing the concrete is more than just eco-friendly, it’s cost-effective. The whole project is $20 million. This last leg costs $12.5 million, but because of the pandemic and its impact on the flying industry, the county won’t be left paying the bill.

“The FAA is paying for 100% of the project,” Kreig said.

Pre-pandemic, the FAA would cover 90% of the cost and leave 5% for the state and 5% for the airport sponsor, which in this case is the county.

“Over $650,000 the county doesn’t need to pay,” Kreig said.

Kreig says it’s never an ideal time to close down but with the pandemic still ongoing and the border remaining closed for the foreseeable future, there’s a continued decline in passenger traffic and right now the project can be completed with no job loss or layoffs.

“Best-case scenario for a worst-case situation,” Kreig said.

The airport also hopes the new runway will be a selling point as they try to bring in more airlines for service.

“You want to keep your services, your infrastructure, you want to make that as good as possible to make it as attractive as possible and certainly maintaining a bidding or reconstructing a runway, we’re trying to do everything we can to ensure a safe operating environment,” Kreig said.

The reopening date is June 22. You can already book a flight for June 23. The airport says the runway will be good for the next 20 years after this repaving project.

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