Glacier Park International Airport is in its first week of “rolling closures” that will shut down the main runway three days a week through August to allow for a $7 million resurfacing project.
In total, the runway will be closed for 12 days, beginning at 10 p.m. on Monday nights and lasting until 9 a.m. on Friday mornings. This schedule shuts down the runway during the day on Tuesdays through Thursdays while keeping the weekends open. Construction begins on the night of Aug. 3 and will be finished by Aug. 27. Crews are working 24 hours per day.
Airport officials announced the closures last year and no tickets have been sold since then for the resurfacing days. With the ample forewarning, Airport Director Cindi Martin said people’s travel schedules haven’t been disrupted. Smaller aircraft can still use the “crosswind” runway and helicopter traffic should not be inhibited.
Resurfacing the airport’s runway is the top infrastructure improvement priority in the state for the Federal Aviation Administration, Martin said. Though Martin said the existing runway is safe, the wear-and-tear of Montana weather has taken a toll on the pavement.
Aside from 1,000 feet of the roughly 9,000-foot runway that has already been repaved, the last resurfacing efforts took place in 1991. The current project will resurface the remaining 8,000 feet of the runway. The $7 million price tag is less than the initial estimate of $7.2 million, Martin said.
While the construction comes at a prime travel time, airport officials were left with no other option. Federal discretionary funding wasn’t issued until this summer and other improvements that didn’t require runway closure were scheduled for July, leaving August as the only choice before autumn weather arrives. Spring weather would not be optimal either.
Airlines knew well ahead of time about the resurfacing and altered their schedules accordingly, but Allegiant Air shouldn’t be affected. Allegiant Air, which flies from Kalispell to Las Vegas at low rates, only has flights scheduled on Friday and Monday on its regular schedule already.
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