Local airports consider future

Marti Roberts, a foreman with K Barnett & Sons of Clovis, performs sub grade work on a taxiway Tuesday at the Clovis Municipal Airport. Construction crews were working to expand the taxiway next to the hangers at the airport. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Tom Baca, director of Aviation for the State of New Mexico Department of Transportation, emphasized to Portales and Clovis airport officials to plan for the future if they want money.

Baca said many funding options could arise for the airports either through federal, state moneys or private investors. All of these parties, Baca said, want to see an action plan for the airport they will be making an investment on.

Joseph Alexa, senior engineer of Arctic Slope Consulting Group Inc. of Albuquerque, gave advice to Steve Summers, Clovis Municipal Airport Director. Summers was advised to look at expanding the parking lot at the airport to prepare for the growth of Great Lakes Aviation.

The Great Lakes Aviation airline had its first flight from Clovis at the start of April. The airline flies from Clovis and Albuquerque with two round trips on weekdays with one round trip each on Saturdays and one on Sundays and has flights from Clovis to Amarillo, Texas.

Alexa and Baca discussed the lists of funding priorities requested from the Federal Aviation Administration for Clovis and Portales airports on Monday during a workshop at the Memorial Building in Portales.

Summers said the ideal location for expansion of the parking lot would be south of the terminal area. He said currently there is grass in that area.

Summers and Mike Parkey of the Portales Municipal Airport gave presentations to engineers and planners hired by the state to compile a database of funding priorities requested from the FAA.

Baca said the lists will be looked at by Wilbur Smith Associates of Cincinnati, Ohio, and the lists will be finalized and sent back to 61 municipal airports in New Mexico by November.

Designers and engineers also want Summers to continue to maintain the runways and request funding from the FAA if needed. Clovis Municipal Airport representatives estimated $25,000 in annual maintenance.

There is an estimate of $2.7 million to extend runway 4-22 and $1.7 million to rehabilitate taxiway B, which is a paved strip at an airport for use by aircraft in taxiing to and from a runway.

The message to Portales airport officials was to prepare for expansion as well. Baca complimented Portales airport and city officials on the facility.

“They’re (FAA and states) not building many airports because of the cost of the environmental analysis, construction and acquiring permits,” Baca said. “The value of your airport is about $30 million. You take care of it and it’s a nice facility.”

Baca and Alexa would like to see the runway expanded to allow for larger airplanes. Parkey said the airport gets an average of four planes each month. Parkey said two twin-engine jets from Hamilton Construction of Silver City have been landing at the Portales Municipal Airport. The company is aiding in construction of wind turbines for the new wind farm outside of Elida.

Portales Airport officials have expanding the primary runway and the secondary (crosswind) runway as two of the funding priorities. City officials estimated $1.25 million for lenghtening of each runway.

Baca wants directors for both airports to produce traffic counts so those numbers can be included in the action plans.