Airport soil tested around damaged runway

MONTROSE — Soil core samples taken Wednesday from areas at the Montrose Regional Airport are expected to bare answers next week regarding public safety and the cost of repairing a damaged runway.

Last month, a city-hired contractor used a hydrofracturing drilling technique to bore a 1,200-foot tunnel 15 feet under the runway. The tunnel was dug for installation of a 36-inch sewer line deemed critical to city growth. Pressure from the process created an 8-inch bulge at the intersection of runway 17-35 and an airport taxiway.

John Harris, City Public Works project manager, told the Montrose City Council on Tuesday evening that costs to repair the area and continue the installation could be $1.1 million to $1.6 million.

He said results from core samples taken from the area should be back at the end of next week and will help determine the extent of the damage.

City, airport and Federal Aviation Administration officials said the bulge has not affected airport operations. Harris said he awaits word about whether the drilling process compromised soil under the runway.

Harris debunked a rumor that a gaping hole exists under the asphalt by saying the area is filled with a water-mud slurry that is capable of holding a displaced load from a heavy passenger aircraft.

Harris said three options are being considered by airport and project engineers. Two of the three involve using underground drilling methods to compete the project. The third is installing the pipe by cutting a trench around the runway.

“We are moving forward on this. We understand the seriousness of this,” Harris said.

When asked by council whose insurance would pay for the repair costs, Harris said those costs should be incurred by the contractor, but he said repairs should begin next week and that those costs will be divvied up later.


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