Explanation Lacks Common Sense to Directors

Common sense is apparently not an attribute prevalent in the Federal Aviation Administration, according to an explanation given on rebuilding the main runway at Tulsa International Airport.
The explanation was given at the December meeting of its governing authorities.
Rebuilding the 10,000-foot runway is a $75 million multi-year project. It was last rebuilt in 1981 and is past its projected 20-year life.
The present runway is 200 feet wide, but in looking at the ships now used in regular air service to Tulsa and without the bombers and other large craft going through Air Force Plant 3, the FAA now wants to lop off 50 feet saying the extra length is unnecessary.
The airport would like to keep those 50 feet for safety reasons as well as meeting changes over the next two decades.
Jeff Hough, deputy airports director engineering, told the Tulsa Airport Authority and its associated financing arms, that after removing the old concrete a preliminary estimate indicates it will cost $7 million to fill in those 50 feet with dirt and other work associated with narrowing the runway.
Substituting concrete for the dirt would cost about $700,000 more, about 1 percent of the total project cost, Hough said. There would not be any cost for the narrowing, such as relocating lighting, extending taxiway connections, etc.
An FAA grant will pay 95 percent of the cost of rebuilding the runway.
Tulsa International has offered to pickup the difference between dirt and concrete, an amount the airport can afford.
But the FAA’s regional office in Fort Worth said it couldn’t be done that way even if does make sense, Hough told the authority.
Before the reconstruction work can even begin, some improvements need to be made to the 7,695-foot east-west runway that will carry the traffic burden during the rebuilding. It is 150 feet wide.
As part of that effort, the purchase of two hangars from Tulsair Beechcraft, Inc. at a cost of $2.25 million on the west side of Tulsa International was approved by the authority at its December meeting.
The hangars — number 8 built in 1955 and number 10 built in the 1930s — are being acquired to provide a clear zone.
Charles Sublett, authority vice chairman, asked at an earlier meeting why the acquisition was needed now when not required in similar circumstances in the 1980s. He also asked about the parameters for the appraisal.
Airports Director Jeff Mulder said that a new instrument approach system to be installed at the east end of the runway requires the clear zone to accommodate planes that make a missed approach and must go around and try a second landing.
The alternative is to shorten the runway by declaring part of it unusable, which Mulder said is “a concern.”
Mulder also described the federal requirements on appraisals.
Sublett said he was satisfied with the explanation on the clear zone and while not happy with the appraisal process noted, “we are governed by federal law.”
As part of the arrangement Tulsair was granted a 20-year lease with two 5-year options elsewhere on the airport for new facilities.
Tom Clark, president of Tulsair, said the new facilities “will bring jobs.”
Noise mitigation was completed by S&L Specialty Contracting on 56 homes in the Tulsa International area at a cost of $1.5 million, or $26,732 per home. The authority was told that 1,413 home had been in the program of 1,777 identified. The program will run another two years.
The authority was told that airlines boarded 113,907 passengers at Tulsa International during November, down from 125,108 in October and 116,154 a year earlier.
Cargo moving through Tulsa International during November totaled 4,472 tons, also down from 5,655 tons the previous month and 4,708 tons in the comparable period of 2008.

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