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Airport main runway now open
Project utilizes fed, state funds
airport runway pic
The Great Bend City Council Tuesday night approved amendments to the contract for the improvements to the Great Bend Municipal Airport’s main runway, which is now open.

The project to rehabilitate the Great Bend Municipal Airport main runway, which dates back to WW II, has come in for a landing, airport Manager Martin Miller told the City Council Monday night.

“It achieved substantial completion on Jan. 17 and was reopened,” Miller said. He was giving a report on the multi-million effort that started in the spring of 2019, and benefited from federal and state grant funding. 

Related to the completion, the council authorized Mayor Cody Schmidt to sign a contract amendment with Burns and McDonald of Wichita for the Great Bend Municipal Airport runway project.

The amendment augments the original aeronautical geographical information system (AGIS) contract to add surface measurements required by the Federal Aviation Administration to close-out the runway construction grant, Miller said. 

The change increased the cost by $25,000, but the engineers thought that they could absorb the additional expense. So, the not-to-exceed costs remain the same at $1,103,920 for construction phase services. 

All that is left to be done is mark of about 21 or so “punch list” items, Miller said. These include painting of the runway markings incorporating reflective beads and reprogramming the new LED lights.

As for the runway, the project was done in two parts.

First,there was the southern 5,500 feet of the runway that fell under a Federal Aviation Administration project. The city received a $6,734,361 grant that will cover 90 percent of the work, with the city paying $782,000.

In October 2018, the council authorized contracts, bonds and surety with Venture Corporation and Burns and McDonnell for the Federal Aviation Administration’s runway project, allowing that project to proceed. 

However, Miller said the runway, which dates back to World War II when it was part of the U.S. Army Airforce airfield to train B-29 bomber crews, is 7,851 feet long. This makes it the longest landing strip in central Kansas and among the longest in the state.

In other words, this left the 2,351 feet not covered by the FAA funding. So, the city would have been responsible for 100 percent of the design and reconstruction of the remainder, Miller said.

However, Great Bend received a grant through the Kansas Department of Transportation Aviation Division. This covered 90 percent of the $444,891 total for the additional stretch, with the city covering about $45,000.

So, in all, the city will pay about $827,000 to have both the southern and northern portions of the runway rebuilt, Miller said.