Trying to land the runway 

3 companies vying for $125M contract

Kip Turner

Grand Junction Regional Airport will take its first step in what is billed as a potential $125 million project — construction of a new runway — when it hires a consultant to guide it through the minimum 10-year process.

Three companies pitched their approaches to the job last week and the Airport Authority board will rank the three on April 11. A contract for design and construction management is expected to be presented to the board a week later.

The three companies — Garver USA, based in North Little Rock, Arkansas; Kimley-Horn, based in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Mead & Hunt, based in Middleton, Wisconsin — all boast experience in runway construction and have good reputations, said Kip Turner, executive director of the airport.

“I’m very familiar with all three firms,” Turner said. “I would not hesitate with any of the three doing the work.”

Turner is to recommend a ranking of the companies to the board and will negotiate a contract with the top-ranked company that the board will then approve before moving ahead with the project.

The Federal Aviation Administration will oversee the process, “so there’s a lot of checks and balances,” Turner said.

Each company outlined a slightly different approach to the job with some common threads, including acknowledging that the Cretaceous seabed, or what is now known as the Mancos shale, will be tricky as a base for landing jets.

Environmental analyses suggest that at least 4 million cubic yards of shale and dirt will have to be moved as the runway base is constructed.

Another common thread is that all three companies propose to use a Grand Junction engineering company, River City Consultants, in designing and building the runway.

“We’re lucky to be on all three teams,” said Ivan Geer, a principal with River City Consultants, which has local expertise in road designs, drainage engineering and surveying.

“That combination is really what attracted all three firms to talk to us,” Geer said.

Each of the companies took a slightly different angle on the project, which calls for construction of a new runway that would be parallel and just north of the aging main runway 11-29, the numbers of which tell pilots it’s a generally east-west runway.

The airport decided to build a new runway after concluding that it couldn’t survive closures that would be needed to rebuild the existing runway, which will be used as a taxiway once the new strip is complete.

Here are some of the high points of each of the presentations:

■ Garver, one of the top 25 aviation consulting firms in the nation, according to Engineering News-Record, an engineering trade publication, specializes in regional airport projects and touted a record of delivering all of its more than 100 projects on time.

About $2 million in fees would remain in Grand Junction because of the use of local contractors and the company’s plans to have a resident engineer on site, officials said.

■ Kimley-Horn, which touted itself as one of Fortune’s 100 best companies to work for, cited its work redesigning the runway at Telluride Regional Airport, which required dealing with Mancos shales, as well.

The company has built 150 runway projects in the United States and officials noted that the Grand Junction project will require a water-management plan for the 96 million gallons that will be needed to move 4 million cubic yards of dirt.

■ Mead & Hunt stressed its long association and familiarity with Grand Junction Regional Airport facilities, as well as its partnership with CH2M, in design and construction management. The job would require the opening of a Grand Junction office, officials said.

Dirt moved from the runway could be placed in such a way as to create a site for a new airport business near the far west end of the existing runway, officials said.


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