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Willmar, Minn., City Council panel approves plans, specs for runway work

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council's Public Works/Safety Committee approved plans and specifications Tuesday for runway crack-sealing work at the airport. The committee's recommendation to approve the work will be considered by the council at the July 16 meeting.

The plans and specifications were prepared by airport consultant Bolton and Menk Engineers and Surveyors of Willmar under a work order approved earlier by the council.

Committee Chairman Doug Reese asked Jared Voge, Bolton and Menk project manager, to explain the need for professional services for the runway project. A question about the need for professional services was initially raised when the council approved the professional services contract with Bolton and Menk on June 18.

Voge said the Federal Aviation Administration requires engineers to prepare plans and specifications.

"The interesting thing about runways is you can't have any overbanding on the pavement,'' he said, meaning the material used to seal the cracks cannot overlap onto the pavement. He said overbanding creates friction with an aircraft's wheels.

Voge said overbanding is usually seen with crack-filling on streets. But with FAA and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, it's a different process, he said.

"The specifications are different than a typical street route and seal project,'' he said. "It's different from street seal coating and crack filling.''

Voge said the condition of the runway was assessed by engineers in advance of preparing the plans and specs.

City Planner/Airport Manager Megan Sauer told the Tribune last month that crack sealing is needed to maintain the runway at the airport, which opened six years ago. The Minnesota Department of Transportation inspected the runway last year and said the work was needed.

Bids from contractors will be opened Aug. 9. The work would take about a week, Voge said. He was asked if the runway would be closed.

Voge said the specification requires coordination with the airport fixed base operator and airport users.

"We don't want to render the airport inoperable for the entire time,'' he said. "It's a lot of coordination, but we've done this successfully in the past. It's not our intent to close the runway. There are some areas where there's potentially cracks that are wider than three-quarters of an inch. We're going to have to work with the contractor on that. I can't guarantee the runway won't be closed for some period. But it's not our intent to close it for a week at a time.''

The funding sources are 70 percent state funds and a 30 percent local share in the 2012 capital improvement budget, said City Public Works Director Holly Wilson.

In other business, the committee:

- Approved final payment of $27,174 to Reiner Contracting Inc. of Hutchinson for the decommissioning of the Ortenblad and Arby's sanitary sewer lift stations. The final project cost was $273,814. The lift stations were no longer needed after the new wastewater treatment plant was constructed. The work included reconstruction of part of 21st Street Southwest for installation of a new sewer line.

- Approved final payment of $203,116.79 to Chad Monson Excavating of Willmar for reconstruction of portions of 19th Street Northwest and 12th Street Southwest in 2011. The payment includes a $5,379 change order to the original $197,737 contract for additional bituminous and sidewalk items, said Wilson. She said such a cost overrun is unusual.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150