The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

November 14, 2013

Ashtabula County Airport Authority planning runway upgrades

DENMARK TOWNSHIP — The Ashtabula County Airport Authority is planning some improvements to the runway at the Northeast Ohio Regional Airport.

ACAA plans to submit a request for federal financial assistance for runway reconstruction and safety upgrades, said Laura Jones, of the ACAA.

The project is in the very early stages and there are a number of steps in the process, she said. As part of the proposed development, the ACAA, in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), have developed a draft environmental assessment in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Jones said this is the first step in the lengthy process. The assessment is available through Nov. 21 for public comment and the ACAA is hoping to get as much feedback as it can.

“It’s very exciting,” Jones said. “We would really love to hear any feedback from the public.”

The assessment can be viewed, during normal business hours, at the Northeast Ohio Regional Airport, the Ashtabula County Commissioners Office and the Ashtabula Library as well as on the airport’s website, www.neohioregionalairport.com.

Originally constructed in 1967, the runway was 4,200 feet in length, with a 7-inch sub-base and 1.5 inches of asphalt overlay. In 1970, a 1,000-foot long extension was constructed to match the original section. In 1974, an overlay was placed across the entire runway with three inches of additional asphalt. In 1990, a runway rehabilitation project was completed that overlaid an additional three inches of asphalt to the runway, according to the assessment.

In 2008, an under-drain system was installed under the western 2,500 feet of the runway, in an effort to address pavement failures due to drainage. The 2008 work was performed anticipating that a runway rehabilitation/reconstruction project would be performed within a couple of years; the project was not intended to be a long-term solution to address the failing runway pavement, according to the assessment.

The runway has met its useful lifespan and is in need of reconstruction. The original runway pavement and base is 46 years old, with the newest pavement rehabilitation overlay being 23 years old, according to the assessment.

In May, the 2008 overlay of the under-drain areas experienced significant reflective cracking and base compaction degradation due to the freeze-thaw effect at the airport. The airport has performed regularly scheduled crack sealing to maintain the runway and achieve the longest life possible, according to the assessment.

The reconstruction project will also bring the airport’s Runway Safety Area (RSA) into compliance with the current FAA design standards, which is required when an airport undergoes runway reconstruction, according to the assessment.

Jones said the time-frame of the project is all dependent on the process.

“Getting through the public comment portion is the first step,” she said. “This is a huge project and we are really well poised for this project.”

Jones said the runway reconstruction project will lead to positive economic development for the county by providing continuing support for local corporations as well as attracting future business to the area.

“It’s an amazing resource for us,” she said. “It’s an amazing legacy we were given by Robert Morrison.”

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