Wednesday ceremony will celebrate
Pilots destined for the Emmett Municipal Airport are finding their arrival much smoother than it used to be, thanks to a community partnership that reconstructed the runway.
The project is a culmination of about five years of work that has significantly improved the airport as an economic centerpiece for the community.
Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who lives in Emmett, will lead a ceremony Wednesday to formally celebrate completion of the runway reconstruction project. Legislators, officials from the city and Gem County, area pilots, business leaders and citizens will join Little at the ceremony. It is planned for 11 a.m.
The runway surface had deteriorated seriously over the years, resulting in bumpy landings and takeoffs, explains Bill Statham, airport project manager for the Idaho Transportation Department's Division of Aeronautics.
More than half of the $600,000 runway reconstruction costs came from state airport grant funds, administered by ITD. Those funds are derived from aviation fuel taxes. The city and county covered the remainder of the project costs.
"What is so impressive about this project is that the city of Emmett owns the airport and is solely responsible for operations," Statham says. "But the Gem County Commission, recognizing the importance of the airport to the local economy, was a major participant in the reconstruction."
The county provided heavy equipment and operators to do much of the excavation, asphalt removal and repairs to the runway substructure in preparation for paving. When county crews removed the old runway, they discovered several pockets of soft material. Those had to be removed and a new base built before the runway could be repaved, Statham explains.
Reconstruction began in early August. Paving was completed about six weeks later by Central Paving of Boise. The runway, which generally runs northwest / southeast, is 55 feet wide and more than 3,500 feet long.
It is one of the largest community airport projects completed with state funds this year, Statham explains.
Other improvements the past few years include paving of a parallel taxiway, rehabilitation of the lighting system and installation of a new fence to separate the end of the runway from an adjacent golf course. The fencing project also included construction of a path for golf carts.
Approximately 21 aircraft are based at the airport, which has six hangars and room for new ones. The facility serves a mix of private and sport pilots and business traffic. Although it is not served by a fixed- base operator, the airport provides card-lock fuel services.
The new runway surface should attract more airport traffic to Emmett and Gem County, improve nighttime use and have a positive impact on the local economy, Statham says.