County approves runway project contract changes

By CECILIA BROWN

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a change in the contract related to runway work at Sawyer International Airport.

The airport had requested approval to move forward with a modification to the contract between the county and Payne and Dolan Inc. for the multiphase, months-long runway rehabilitation project that began Monday.

The contract changes were due to a request for three additional safety measures from the Federal Aviation Administration after its review of the plan for the runway project.

These safety measures include additional paint outlining on the northern portion of the runway that will be closed, additional temporary runway end indicator lights and temporary construction signs to give flight crews operating during the construction clarification on the construction zones.

“These are all items that are going to make this project go off that much safer and with less chance of any incident or misunderstanding by flight crews,” Sawyer International Airport Manager Duane DuRay said.

The airport needed to get board approval for the contract modifications because the safety changes will cost around $19,000, which isn’t included in the initial $5 million FAA grant the airport was awarded for the project.

“The FAA has moved into a different style of funding these (grants), where they award the exact amount for the particular grant,” DuRay said. “Anything above and beyond that actual amount for the construction will fall on the local sponsor to approve it prior to paying for the modification.”

The contract modifications will be reviewed by the state and the FAA at the close of the project. If the state and FAA approve of the modifications, the final grant amendment will subsequently be completed to cover approved costs.

DuRay said airport staff is confident the modification will be approved and reflected in the grant, as the FAA is the agency requesting the modifications that will be adding the additional cost.

“Granted, this was a modification recommended by the FAA for these safety additions, so we at the airport feel pretty confident that the FAA, at the end of the project cycle, they’re going to amend the grant to absorb this,” he said.

Commissioners asked if the county would be responsible for providing the funding upfront.

“We won’t be paying out the $19,124, we’re just authorizing it to come out,” DuRay said. “But at the end of the project cycle, when they modify or amend the contract, whatever is left out there unprovided for by the state and the FAA, falls on to the local share. Again, this is anticipated, being that it was an FAA recommended amendment, they should honor it and sponsor with the grant amendment.”

If the grant amendment is approved by the FAA and the state, the federal share of the $19,124 will be $17,211.96, with local and state shares being $956.22 each. This equates to a federal share of 90 percent of the cost, with state and local shares of 5 percent each, which is the funding breakdown for the original grant as well.

DuRay said Friday that the additional safety measures are in place, noting the runway rehabilitation project is “coming together really well” and the crews are making “unbelievable headway.”

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net