Runway shift cleared for landing

There aren’t too many reasons to get excited about an early-morning meeting, but accepting $4.5 million would have to be one of them.

On Monday, the Port of Bremerton commissioners gathered to do just that — accept a grant offer from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin their long-planned shift of the Bremerton National Airport’s runway.

“This will permanently fix the safety issues we have with the runway,” said Fred Salisbury, the Port of Bremerton’s director of Airport and Industrial Operations.

Salisbury said the port, which oversees the airport, has known for some time the 6,200-foot runway would have to be moved. At its north end, the runway comes within a few hundred feet of State Route 3. The FAA requires, at a minimum, a 500-by-1,000-foot area of clearance at both ends of the runway.

To comply with the requirements, the port plans to dig up 1,190 feet of pavement, then pave a similar area south of the runway, effectively moving the runway 990 feet to the south and leaving the north end clear of the highway encroachment.

“We won’t be completely whole at the end of this,” Salisbury said, explaining the runway will lose 200 feet in the process. “But we will have a full 6,000 feet for landing and takeoff.”

Last month, Salisbury said the Port began collecting bids for the project, estimated to cost $4.3 million. The federal grant money will cover 95 percent of the project, with the port’s share estimated at $324,000.

Now that the wait for the grant offer is over, Salisbury said the port planned to award the project to Icon Material of Tukwila “within the next couple of days.”

He said he hopes to break ground on the project by next April or May, and have the shift completed by the end of October.

Unfortunately, Salisbury said during construction the runway will be shortened even more to about 4,000 feet, which will not affect the smaller planes, but will prevent larger jets flown in by businesses like Costco and Target — which need at least 5,000 feet — from landing at the airport.

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