Runway shift underway

Crews began work Monday on a 1,000-foot shift of the runway at the Bremerton National Airport, a move that will address longstanding safety concerns at the facility.

Although the work was delayed until this month in a quest for sunny skies, Fred Salisbury, the Port of Bremerton’s director of airport and industrial operations, said workers were dodging raindrops this week as they completed the necessary prep work before the runway could be “moved” later this summer.

Salisbury said while passing motorists and other casual visitors to the airport might not notice the workers clearing land and installing pipes for a stormwater detention system, by mid-July the repair work will become apparent as the first of two scheduled complete closures begins.

“Pilots will know well in advance what’s happening and what limitations the airport has,” Salisbury said, explaining that in addition to the planned 48-hour and 72-hour closures, the runway’s precision-landing approach, which affects a pilot’s use of instruments, will be shut down at points during the work as well.

Before both closures, Salisbury said pilots and other users will be notified two weeks ahead of time. The second closure will be particularly tricky to schedule, however, since crews will use the 72 hours to re-stripe the runway and will need three days of clear weather to complete the work.

When the project is completed — which Salisbury said will hopefully be in October — the airport will have a safer, albeit shorter, runway.

The port has known for some time its 6,200-foot long runway would have to be moved. Currently 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 that the runway will lose 200 feet in the process. “But we will have a full 6,000 feet for landing and takeoff.”

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.

Last September, the port received a $4.5 million grant from the FAA, which will pay the lion’s share — 95 percent — of the project.

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