THUNDER BAY — The Thunder Bay International Airport is down to one runway as crews begin the work to upgrade almost every facet of the main runway and supporting infrastructure.
"We only have the one runway, 1230, its a non-instrument level of service runway, meaning in really foggy or low cloud covering days, we may actually not be able to have aircrafts land on that runway," said Ryan Brading, manager or airport services.
The $20-million project, which is being jointly funded by Transport Canada and the airport, is the first of the airport's major capital projects that's been eligible for federal funding.
Contruction started on May 6.
Brading said there will be upgrades to nearly every part of the runway and supporting infrastructure.
"The asphalt is being milled and paved 150-millimetre depth; we're reducing the width of the runway," he said. "The big benefit is that we will be upgrading the level of service, the standard to the new addition, so we will be fully compliant with the fifth edition of the TP312 standard."
Other work will include full runway edge lighting replacement, airfield signage, the replacement of cables and the conduit under the runway, as well as a new sub-drain system.
Brading said the runway will reopen to full length for a total of seven days during construction to accommodate special charter flights — such as the Viking cruise line coming to Thunder Bay this summer — but does have a timeline they hope to follow toward reopening.
"The plan is to reopen the runway with all the new infrastructure on Sept. 25. Notwithstanding any delays we may see due to weather or unforeseeable things over construction, we're hoping to reopen before October," he said.
The airport will also be installing a recess, which is a runway end safety area that consists of a 150-metre-long built-up pad that is able to support an aircraft in case of an excursion, a new requirement imposed by Transport Canada, and will close runway 12 again in October.