Montrose runway fix coming soon

MONTROSE — A fix for the damage caused last week to part of a Montrose Regional Airport runway is due by the end of the week, the Montrose City Council was told Tuesday night.

Contractors were using a hydro-fracturing technique to drill a 1,200-foot-long tunnel for a sewer line several hundred feet beneath the airport before noticing pressure from the drilling process had created a bulge May 24 on the edge of runway 17-35, the largest of the airport’s two runways.

Airport Director Lloyd Arnold said a 4 1/2-hour closure of the runway May 24 was the only effect to the airport’s operations. The closure delayed only a pair of landings; one was a United Airlines flight from Denver, Arnold said.

Montrose Public Works Director Jim Hougnon told the council a recommendation to fix the problem will be presented to the council by the end of the week.

Buckhorn Geotech engineer Dan Quigley told the council its hydro-fracturing procedure failed May 10 after 210 feet of pipe was installed. He said pressure problems were the cause of the failure.

Drilling took place again May 20, 22 and 23. The bulge was detected at 4:45 p.m. May 24, Quigley said.

Hougnon said there are four solutions to the problem: abandon the project; cut into the runway; find a solution to horizontal drilling; or use a tunnel-boring machine to install the pipe. Any solution would need to be approved by the County Commission.

Hougnon said the new 36-inch sewer line is critical for development north and east of the city.


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