Airfield Pavement Preservation Project
This summer the Airport will be contracting out some pavement preservation work on the Runway 09/27 along with some of the connecting taxiway intersections. The work involves crack sealing, fog sealing, and repainting of pavement markings.
Bids for this project were reviewed at the April Airport Authority Meeting and the project was awarded to the lowest qualified bidder — Maxwell Asphalt of Utah — in the amount of $384,100.31. This work is scheduled to occur in July when we typically experience hot, dry weather. The plan is to close Runway 09/27 following the morning airline departures, and work as far as possible before allowing cure time in order to re-open the runway in time for the mid-day and afternoon airline flights. It is estimated that approximately a week of this phased work will be required to cover the entire runway.
During construction closures, runways 05/23, 17/35, and the turf landing strip will be available for use by general aviation aircraft. This preservation work will extend the pavement’s useful life until a more in-depth rehabilitation project is done, currently projected to begin in 2019.
Long Term Parking Lot Improvements
Another summer project involves installation of an automated fee collection system for the Helena Regional Airport’s Long Term Parking Lot. For the past several decades an honor system has been used to collect fees for the parking lot. Airport staff logs in cars each day and places pay envelopes under the windshield wipers of the vehicles. When users return from a trip they remit parking fees by either dropping the envelopes in a drop box as they exit the lot, or mail in payment a day or two later.
Over the years this worked well, although a very small number of people either don’t pay at all, or do not pay the full amount due. Technology has evolved to a point that we have options to make collecting parking fees a more effective and user-friendly operation. Our new system will work like this: the driver will take a ticket from the dispenser when entering the lot. Upon returning from a trip, the driver inserts the ticket into a pay station at the exit of the lot. The user will be able to pay for parking with cash (including receiving change), a credit or debit card. Receipts will be printed out, which is also important for folks to use for travel documentation and reimbursement. Annual parking permits will be available for those who travel frequently.
The current parking rates are $3/day and $15/week. The Airport Authority recently made the decision to establish a flat parking fee of $3 per calendar day once the new system is installed.
We feel confident this system will provide more user-friendly features, while keeping parking rates competitive and well below other Montana airports.
While the Helena Airport Authority cannot directly control the cost of airline tickets, we can control the costs of parking. We have always worked hard to provide a low-cost alternative, which many times allows passengers to affordably fly out of Helena as opposed to traveling to another nearby airport.
The Parking Lot Project is expected to be completed by late summer 2015.