Not every construction project is completed ahead of schedule, especially during a wet year, but the Antelope County Airport's new runway officially opened Friday a couple of days early.
Other than some dirt work and clean up of the site, the project is complete and the runway is primarily open for regular traffic. The original completion date was September 1, but the project was finished ahead of schedule.
Joe McNally, who serves as secretary and treasurer of the Antelope County Airport Authority, said the project comes with a price tag of $2,790,242, most of which is from federal funding. McNally said just $125,000 is bonded for the project. The rest comes from the state and cash on hand.
According to local pilots, the old runway was in poor condition, having cracks three inches wide and six inches deep.
The runway was extended 50 to 60 feet to create a safer runway for taking off and landing planes. The previous runway was asphalt but the new one is concrete. Also included in the project were new runway lights for night visibility.
According to McNally the lights will be more reliable and brighter to meet current standards. He calls it a "welcome addition."
"Increasing safety is always a concern of the Airport Authority Board," McNally said.
A&R Construction of Osmond served as the general contractor.
“This project is important because the airport not only serves Antelope County, but also because it gets a lot of transient traffic,” McNally said. “There are a lot of people who stop for fuel and to eat. This is a good thing for the town. There’s no other airport in the county, so it’s a good asset for the community.”