Posted: Jan 24, 2013 6:57 PM by Angela Douglas - MTN News
BILLINGS - A big improvement project is in the works for Billings Logan International Airport this summer.
The project will involve removing two to five inches of asphalt and repaving the main runway surface.
It's necessary longterm, but it will likely put a cramp in some travel plans.
For six consecutive weekend this summer from mid-July through mid-August there will be no inbound or outbound flights from 9 a.m. Friday until 6 p.m. Sunday.
The dates: July 12-14, July 19-21, July 26-28, August 2-4, August 9-11, August 16-18.
Why the weekend? Historically, weekends are the lightest travel days for commercial airlines.
The last time the airport had to rehabilitate its runway was back in 1998. Back then they were able to do the work mostly at nighttime, but now, 15 years later, that's not possible.
"Safety rules have changed so much, the type of air craft has changed so much that we really can't do it any other way, other than to close the surface that we're working on," explained Director of Aviation and Transit Tom Binford.
Approximately 2,000 feet of asphalt will be replaced during each of the six weekends.
"If we don't do it now, then in a year it begins to degrade the asphalt underneath the top surface as well as the rock base below that," explained Binford. "You don't want to get to that point, because your six week closure turns into four or five times that because you have to do so much more work."
Maintaining the runway is critical to ensure a safe take off and landing for all pilots and passengers traveling through Billings Logan International Airport, but with special occasions and dream vacations often scheduled for the summer months some extra planning may be required this July and August.
"We heard from some people that are having weddings, for example, in August. That's a pretty popular wedding month," acknowledged Binford. "They're planning on bringing people in on Thursday and taking them out Monday morning. Yes, it's an extra day, but with enough planning, you can work around it, we hope."
For those who cannot work around those closure dates, Binford reminds travelers that the Cody and Bozeman airports can provide alternate routes.
"There are options around us, they're not as convenient," said Binford. "It will impact how some people travel to and from Billings during that time period."
If you will be traveling in and out of Billings between July 12 and August 18, you may want to act quick on getting those tickets.
"Book early," Binford stated. "Because those Thursdays and Monday mornings are probably going to be quite busy."