Airport project clear for landing
It is nearly nine years since Douglas County voters narrowly lifted a weight limit at Minden-Tahoe Airport and in that time a dozen projects worth $15 million have been completed.
Last week county commissioners agreed to a project that will help open the east side of Minden-Tahoe Airport to soaring.
The county accepted a $2.61 million Federal Aviation Administration grant to construct the taxiway east of Runway 16-34.
Airport Manager Chris Johnson said there’s already a waiting list for potential airport leases on the east side of the airport.
“We could do land leases on the east side, but there are no taxiways to connect the hangars to them,” Johnson said. “Now we’ve got the first section of taxiway, we can place hangars. We’ve already got people waiting to develop the east side.”
He said the taxiway project should be done in 62 days.
The airport has been planning to develop the east side for gliding for nearly two decades.
“The goal is to move soaring activity over to the east side of the airport so the gliders aren’t crossing the main runway,” Johnson said.
The taxiway Z project is the first of three phases of work planned for the east side of the airport, but several projects have been in support of that effort.
Gliders use the east side apron on the airport to launch, which was rehabilitated last year, Johnson said.
“Minden-Tahoe Airport is one of the top three soaring locations in the world,” Johnson told commissioners.
Most of the money to work on airports comes from taxes on commercial airline tickets collected by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Of the $15 million spent on Minden-Tahoe Airport in the last half-dozen years, $934,862 came from airport revenues.
“All money generated on the airport, per the grant assurances, has to be used at the airport,” Johnson said.
Big projects on the airport included replacing 37,000 linear feet of perimeter face in order to keep deer and coyotes off the runway. The airport also relocated Bliss Road out of the runway protection zone and replaced the runway lights and beacon, some of which dated back to the 1950s.
Johnson said the project will require 62 days to complete.
He said Minden-Tahoe has a good reputation with the FAA for handling its grants.
Up until voters approved Douglas County Question No. 1 in 2010 there was some question as to whether the airport would be eligible for more federal grants.
The question eliminated a weight ordinance, and won by 278 votes, out of 20,658 cast, or 1.3 percent.
Until the vote, a weight limit had been in effect at Minden-Tahoe Airport since 1982, though it was generally considered unenforceable.