Runway construction to begin Dec. 6

Kevin Wilson

Officials involved with the runway expansion at the Clovis Municipal Airport hope for a boring project and much better service 10 months from now.

Airport Director Steve Summers said the runway extension is expected to be complete in September 2011, with dirt work set to start Dec. 6.

The runway will be extended 1,800 feet to the northeast, bringing the total space to 7,200 feet.

“The extension of the runway would allow us to accommodate smaller commercial dates,” Summers said, “like what American Eagle flies.”

The runway expansion will be funded from a $4 million appropriation from the U.S. Department of Transportation and $2.5 million from the state. Airport Director Steve Summers said the city will provide a match of 2.5 percent of the monies.

“It’s a pretty plain vanilla project from an engineering perspective,” said Dumas Slade, a manager at W.H. Pacific of Albuquerque. W.H. Pacific is handling engineering, while David Montoya Construction of Albuquerque is doing the construction.

The extension was justified, Summers said, by a 2006 survey that showed the amount of traffic the airport receives.

“Coincidentally,” Summers said, “the Air Force changed its mission (at Cannon Air Force Base) and is looking for enhanced air service to the east, including Dallas/Fort Worth.”

The airport currently offers 12-round trip flights to and from Albuquerque via Great Lakes Airlines — two every weekday and one each on Saturday and Sunday.

No negotiations have taken place on a carrier to and from Dallas, once the extension is complete.

“There’s two ways to do that,” Summers said. “Either the city subsidizes (additional service), or the traffic justifies (a carrier to offer service) on its own. What we’re looking at doing is a turboprop service to begin with. Then we’d be in a better position to negotiate.”

Slade said work would begin for a month or two, then halt until spring weather rolls around.