Portions of Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport’s Iosco Apron – which dates back to 1959 – are in need of resurfacing due to deteriorating conditions. The pavement shown in this photo at left requires repairs, while the section at right was resurfaced in 2010. To assist with the effort, the Federal Aviation Administration has awarded a $4,930,000 grant to the airport, which will cover all of the construction expenses.

OSCODA – A $4,930,000 grant has been awarded to the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Authority (OWAA) by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

According to Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport (OWA) Manager Gary Kellan, the funding will be used for one of the facility’s airfield pavement restoration projects, specifically, to resurface portions of the essential heavy aircraft capable apron.

He shared a letter which was prepared last fall by OWAA Chairman Kevin Boyat, and was sent to the FAA Great Lakes Region-Detroit Airport District Office, along with the application for funding.

Boyat stated that OWA’s expansive airfield, relatively long runway and aircraft maintenance hangars make for an ideal location for maintaining large aircraft. As such, four aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) companies – employing more than 1,200 workers – have established business operations at OWA.

“Iosco Apron is the primary pavement area in support of those MRO activities. Specifically, it is capable of supporting movement and parking of Airfield Reference Code D-V category aircraft,” Boyat wrote.

He advised that the 800- by 2,600-foot concrete apron dates back to 1959, adding, “The partial pavement area proposed for resurfacing exhibits severe distress and deterioration.”

The letter was penned upon OWA being afforded priority consideration for the supplemental discretionary funding award, via provisions of The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018.

Kellan explained that the grant will provide 100 percent of actual construction expenses, meaning there will be no state or local match obligations required.

However, he said OWAA needs to pay for the supporting engineering services, which includes developing the project designs, specifications and assisting with the solicitation for construction bids.

Kellan added that a contract has been established with OWAA’s retained engineering firm, Mead & Hunt, for which the company will be paid $165,949 to prepare designs and specifications as part of task one. Mead & Hunt will receive $10,796 for task two, which entails assisting with soliciting construction bids and an award recommendation.

“The FAA has not yet provided a date for funding availability,” stated Kellan, adding that, with these projects, the funds are not actually delivered directly to OWAA.

“The construction contractor will submit incremental invoices to the Airport Authority,” he explained. With assistance from the project engineer, the amounts claimed via invoice are verified/certified to the FAA and then the grant funds are paid out to the construction contractor.

It is estimated that construction bidding will be complete and the FAA will provide approval to issue the construction contract during mid-winter (early 2020), Kellan stated. Actual construction and payouts of funding will then be made incrementally during the 2020 construction season.

As noted in a press release, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced on May 15 the intent to award $779 million in supplemental funding for infrastructure grants to 127 airports in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

“This supplemental funding allows us to invest in important infrastructure needs at the nation’s airports, especially those serving smaller and rural communities,” said Chao.

The selected airports will receive funding for construction or equipment to increase their safety, capacity and security, the information continues. Airports are vital to the local and regional economy and support critical transportation needs.

This funding is in addition to the $3.31 billion awarded in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding during fiscal year 2018, and $205 million awarded in the first tranche of supplemental AIP funding in September 2018.

Selected projects include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation, and the maintenance of taxiways, aprons and terminals. According to the press release, the construction and equipment supported by this funding increase the airports’ safety, emergency response capabilities and capacity, and could support further potential growth and development within each airport’s region.

The FAA published a Federal Register notice on July 9, 2018, explaining the evaluation criteria and submission process. After the FAA awarded $205 million to 37 airports in 34 states in September 2018, airports in October 2018 submitted additional funding requests for grant awards in fiscal years 2019 or 2020.

Based on the FAA’s most recent economic analysis, U.S. civil aviation accounts for $1.6 trillion in total economic activity and supports nearly 11 million jobs. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the FAA received 2,652 requests totaling $10.9 billion for airport projects between the unfunded Round 1 requests and new Round 2 requests, compared to the remaining $779 million in available funding.

State subtotals ranged from $22 million to more than $1.1 billion. The average number of requests from within each state was 43 projects.

Given that the FAA received an enormous number of project requests for the remaining 2018 supplemental funds, competition for funding was extremely strong, DOT representatives note. The FAA used multiple criteria, similar to the normal AIP discretionary selection process, to help determine final project selections. Both quantitative and qualitative factors were considered.

The FAA applied a national approach to ensure that the remaining funding was distributed with due consideration of the needs of the national system of airports.

The upcoming apron work at OWA follows another significant project which was recently completed at the airport.

As reported, the runway rehabilitation project which occurred last summer at OWA earned national recognition.

Earlier this year, Kellan said he was very pleased to share that the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) had selected Rieth-Riley Construction Co., Inc. to receive an award for the OWA runway resurfacing project.

NAPA, based in Maryland, advised that Rieth-Riley won a 2018 Quality in Construction Award for excellence in construction of an asphalt pavement.

The OWA runway measures 11,800 feet long and 200 feet wide, with the engineer’s preliminary cost estimate for the project being $8,785,442. Rieth-Riley’s bid and contract amount was $6,489,301, Kellan pointed out.

He said the primary description of work involved partial depth removal of asphalt, some concrete location repairs, re-paving to a four-inch depth of asphalt, groove cutting and applying paint markings on the new pavement.

The project also included full reconstruction of  ‘blast pads’ at both ends of the runway, and the replacement of runway lighting circuitry and signage.