March 9, 2019 — The Florence Municipal Airport will be closed to air traffic beginning Monday, March 18, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The runway will be open on weekends, and on weekdays before 10 a.m., but will be operating without lights or navigational aids during those times
The reason for the closure of the airport is to allow work crews to upgrade the primary runway lighting system and the Precision Approach Pathway Indicator (PAPI) lights that run along the runway.
“The current electrical system is over 30 years old and with our harsh, corrosive ocean environment, has outlived its useful life,” said Florence Public Works Director Mike Miller. “This replacement and upgrade, which includes LED lighting, will result in better performance and lower maintenance costs. The end result of these lighting upgrades will be a safer and more efficient airport.”
Major improvements will also be made to the airport’s electrical equipment and the lighting on the runway used to assist pilots in landing more safely during inclement weather or darkness.
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, introduced legislation last year that authorized the Federal Aviation Administration to provide 90 percent of the funding for the $1.6 million Florence Municipal Airport project.
“These funds will allow for important maintenance and critical safety improvements to be made to our local air infrastructure. I’m proud to support infrastructure investments like this, and will continue to push for increased investments,” DeFazio said.
Miller said cooperation between the different funding agencies involved were critical to the process.
“The federal and state grants allow us to replace all the runway electrical systems: runway lights, approach path lighting, lighted guidance signs for the taxiway and runway and elevated taxiway reflectors,” he said.
A press release from the City of Florence also highlighted information that shows the Oregon Department of Aviation provided over $100,000 in financial support for the airport modifications, with the City of Florence responsible for $13,666 of the total cost of the upgrade.
Work at the airport was scheduled to begin last month but weather-related issues pushed the start date back, which Miller mentioned during the staff report he delivered at Monday’s Florence City Council meeting.
“We were supposed to start today, however our contractor was snowed in at his base of operations in Roseburg,” Miller said. “So, they asked for a two-week delay and they will actually start construction on March 18 and the project will continue until about the May 16.”
Major electrical system upgrades were also needed at the airport to bring the decades-old technology at the airport up to current usage requirements and to modernize the overall power distribution system at the location.
The upgrade of the PAPI system is also significant because pilots worldwide use the red and white lights in the guidance device to determine the planes glidepath as it lands.
The project also includes the addition of Runway End Indicator Lights for each approach vector and the installation of airport wide guidance signs.
According to Miller, these overdue runway and landing additions will assist not only local pilots, but the improvements will make it much easier and safer for medical transports to land at all hours of the day or night.
“We have been in communication with pilots, and more importantly with Ameri-flight, because they use the airport on a regular basis,” Miller said. “We have contacted them and they are very aware of the project.”
The city’s selected contractor, Kunert Electric, recently completed a similar lighting upgrade project at Bandon State Airport. Century West Engineering, the engineer and inspector, “reported that the project was very successful,” Miller said. “The city has high confidence that the Florence Municipal Airport lighting upgrades project will experience the same results.”
For additional details about the Florence Municipal Airport Lighting Upgrades Project, call City of Florence Public Works at 541-997-4106 or visit www.ci.florence.or.us.