To the Journal editor:
There appears to be some misunderstanding concerning the financial implications of reducing the runway length at Sawyer International Airport.
In 2011, the Federal Aviation Administration informed Sawyer that projects on the north 3,300 feet of the runway would no longer be eligible for FAA reimbursement.
Without FAA reimbursement, the airport would be responsible for all costs associated with maintaining the pavement of the runway, taxiway, painting, lighting and any repair or replacement work of these items.
The north end of the runway would need to be rehabilitated to remain open. Costs are estimated at $1,500,000 to $2,200,000 to extend the life of the runway seven to 20 years.
The $15,000 to $20,000 annual maintenance cost for the north end of the airfield is the airport’s cost for snow removal, sweeping and lighting maintenance.
The $870,000 estimate to reduce the runway length is eligible for FAA reimbursement. The Marquette County will retain ownership of the property, and the infrastructure will remain. The reduced runway will still be able to handle most aircrafts and will remain the longest runway in the Upper Peninsula.
When reduced, only the Grand Rapids and Detroit airports will have longer runways than Sawyer.
The financial and operational implications of reducing the runway length were discussed in detail with the Airport Advisory Committee.
The committee concluded that the county would not have adequate funds to continue to operate and maintain the full 12,360 foot runway and agreed that the airport could continue to operate effectively with a 9,000 foot runway.
Steven J. Schenden P.E.
Director of Sawyer Operations
and Duane R. DuRay,
CM airport manager