Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Attended Marfa Airport meeting this morning

I attended a short meeting this morning at the Marfa Airport. Discussed was the first phase of a long-term renovation of airport infrastructure. The airport here is pretty well used, with much of the traffic coming from the Marfa Gliders business that Burt Compton owns. The weekends see a lot of chartered private turboprops and jets of larger sizes (and impacts on runways). There are many issues with the aging infrastructure at the airport, and I will try to do my best to cover it over the next few years here.

Today's discussion, of which I was not there for the whole time, mostly concerned replacement of the runway lighting on the primary runway. The lights that are there leak electricity badly, as the lines are buried wire, old and not in conduit. Fixtures are out of date and inefficient, and the yearly cost to the County just to run the lighting is in the tens of thousands of dollars. TXDOT has a 90/10 grant program we have applied for, and phase one involves the replacement of these lights. Further information will be coming on the whens and exact details of this project, but light replacement will cost approximately $800,000, 10% of which comes from the County. Other minor improvements are set to be included in this grant. Burt Compton expressed concern about signage on the edges of runways, as gliders are usually wider than runways and because of the flexibility of the wings, usually travel offset to the center-line of a runway. This means that at least one wing is often far outside of the paving and very close to the ground. Signage could cause a safety issue and Burt argued it is also unnecessary, as there is already striping and, of course, lighting. The TXDOT reps and Airports Manager Chase Snodgrass received his comments. More info will be available once the grant proposal is completed and goes before Commissioners Court within the next month or so.

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