Runway woes at Blue Grass Airport

Drainage problems close Lexington airport's new runway

Repair of Drainage problem will take 'couple of weeks'

jhewlett@herald-leader.comJune 4, 2011 

Blue Grass Airport's relatively new $27 million general aviation runway is temporarily closed while a drainage problem that surfaced during recent heavy rains is corrected.

It's not the first time the runway has been closed to air traffic since it opened in September.

"Any time you've got a new runway, you've got kinks," airport executive director Eric Frankl said. "There's always going to be some cleanup issues that have to be done.

"We're trying to keep it open as much as we can, but we have to close it occasionally."

Blue Grass Airport issued a Notice to Airmen on May 19 to advise pilots about the most recent closure. Pilots check the notices for any changes in conditions or unusual situations at airports before beginning their flights.

The airport told the Federal Aviation Administration that excessive rain during the past several weeks had caused debris to clog Runway 9/27's drainage system and water to seep into electrical transformers, which caused problems with the lighting system, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said in an email earlier this week.

A silt fence to keep mud from running into the drain was itself clogged during the rains, Frankl said.

"The grass has not taken hold," he added.

Airport spokeswoman Amy Caudill said the flooding affected guidance signs along the runway but not the runway's edge lights. The rain has not caused any problems with lighting along the airport's main runway, she said.

Frankl said earlier this week that the general aviation runway might reopen within a of couple of weeks. He said he did not consider the drainage problem to be a major construction issue. But, he said, "It's not something that can be fixed overnight."

Caudill, in an email, said the runway also has been closed on and off since it first opened so the contractor could make finishing touches, such as grading and seeding.

The general aviation runway — 4,000 feet long and 75 feet wide — is for use by small private and corporate aircraft, primarily when crosswind conditions affect the airport's main, 7,000-foot runway.

The shorter runway was funded with federal and state tax funds and airport money.

Since the runway opened, only daytime takeoffs and landings have been allowed. The runway probably will be available for night-time use beginning in mid-August, according to airport officials.

Frankl said the runway is for aircraft operating under visual flight rules and has never been intended for instrument landings.

Charlie Monette, president of Aero-Tech, a flight school based at the airport, said the runway has been closed "a fair number of days" — more days than he would have expected.

But, he said, "It hasn't caused me any operational headaches."

While he said he would like the runway to always be available, the flight school doesn't use it an "incredible amount."

"We don't use it every day. We normally use the main runway," he said. But, he said, "On days when the winds are strong — what we call a crosswind — we definitely use it. It makes a big difference in safety."

Reach Jennifer Hewlett at (859) 231-3308 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3308.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service