Paving Issues Delay Dunkirk Airport Runway Extension; Commission To Meet Nov. 6

DUNKIRK – Pilots and passengers wanting to utilize the new runway extension and parallel taxiway for the Dunkirk Airport will have to wait a bit longer. At a recent Airport Commission meeting, it was announced the engineers and contractors were having some delays on the project.

County Manager for Airports and Parks Sam Arcadipane said there has been a problem with the mix and core samples taken while paving the runway.

Peter Rase, engineer with Passero Associates, said the Federal Aviation Administration’s mix currently on the runway is “more difficult to make and place” than mixes found locally, which has been causing troubles. The asphalt will not stick to the FFA’s mix. Due to project specs, a test strip has to pass before paving can continue. The first two test strips failed, but a third passed, Rase said.

“We had a passing base test strip. We started production paving on the taxiway and everything was going along smoothly. Halfway through the day, the mix for whatever reason started to come apart. We stopped and removed all of the bad asphalt … back to where the change had occurred and left the remainder back in. Since that time we have tried two other days to pave the base with no good results. The mix will not compact,” Rase said.

An industry expect from Ohio spent a week here and made suggestions. The airport took those suggestions and paved again prior to the meeting. The paving seemed to stick, according to Rase.

“With that confidence we’re going ahead and paving … Right now we’re cautiously optimistic that what we did is going to pass and we’re set up to pave tomorrow for the taxiway to get the base day. It will be another two days on the runway to get the base done,” Rase said.

Once the base is down, the top will be laid but will also need to be tested and some core samples have been taken. Rase said the failure of this mixture is rare and has never seen this severe of a situation in over three decades. He theorized the aggregate of the gravel mix, which is more round and doesn’t want to compact. With the troubles, the project’s budget will not be impacted. It is being worked out between the contractor and Gernatt Gravel Products who is the supplier.

“The contractor is bearing the burden, between the contractor and the supplier. I’m not sure how that’s breaking out …” said Rase. “They have been super cooperative, the contractor and the supplier.”

The paving will continue and there is about eight days left to pave until the project is completed. All paving is weather permitting with a ground temperature of at least 48 degrees. Following completion of paving, the FAA requires a 30-day period before the runway and taxiway can be grooved or marked.

“The only reason they want a month is so the asphalt will cure so you’re not ripping it up. This time of year with these temperatures, I’m not too concerned about that. I have done it a week after paving and it has been fine. The only reason we wait a month on the marking is to let the oil wear off the surface so the paint sticks. We can accelerate that schedule,” Rase said.

In an unrelated matter, the board discussed a request to renew the lease for the Lucile M. Wright Air Museum located at the Jamestown airport for another 10-year lease. The lease will expire at the end of the year and the board did not act at the meeting. Len Nalbone announced the Jamestown airport purchased a boom truck for deicing and the truck can hold 2,000 gallons of fluid. The commission will meet again on Nov. 6 at 4 p.m. at the Jamestown airport.