Airport Runway Project Completed
A repaving and updating of the runway for the Malad Airport has been completed, after a roughly year and a half long cycle of grants and construction. The new surface will allow for better access for Life Flight, Firefighting, and Agricultural Flight operations, as well as create a safer and more user-friendly environment. The project was primarily funded by state grant money under Governor Little’s Building Idaho’s Future Initiative through the Idaho Division of Aeronautics.
When the grant possibilities were announced in April of 2021, the Airport board submitted a proposal for a runway project of $1,601,130, which came back as fully funded. A supplemental taxiway grant request for $661,895 was also approved, with fifty percent coming from the State Aeronautic Board, and the other fifty percent coming from the Airport board and the county. However, because the grant allowed for “in-kind” donations to match the state funding, the airport board was able to figure out creative methods to cover the match, rather than accessing county funds. Ultimately, the old taxiway asphalt was reused as the base to the new runway/taxiway after being pulverized to satisfy the in-kind donation.
Following the county commission’s approval of the grants in September of last year, bids were taken for construction. Staker Parson was awarded the contract with the lowest bid. Construction officially began on the project in May of this year, and was officially completed on July 29, 2022. While there were a few change-orders that became necessary as a result of some unexpected construction issues, the project was able to come in at a final cost below the granted amount. The remaining funds will potentially be used for a few additional projects, such as more paint striping on the taxiway and tie-downs in the asphalt for parked planes.
Airport Board member Mike Hess is one person who is happy to see the project completed. When asked what he saw as the greatest benefits of the new runway, Hess stated “Life flight would be the first and foremost, saving lives as Malad relies on medical transport in many life threatening cases.” Without a well-maintained runway, critical patients must be taken by ambulance to the nearest trauma center, which can often make a significant difference in their medical intervention.
Hess continued, “Firefighting would be next. Almost every year the forest service will set up a fire fighting base there.” This year’s fire season has not been as extreme as last years, but the recent Lemhi county and Yosemite fires suggest the season may have quite a few surprises left, especially as high temperatures and winds are in the forecast for much of August.
Hess also mentioned some of the less visible benefits. “Each year Agricultural spray planes base their operations at the airport for the local ag community. As I mentioned there were over 2200 landing here last year. Many of these will take the Courtesy car into town and buy lottery tickets and a meal. Beyond that, many people fly in for other business purposes and family visits. Many visitors are flying cross country and stop to purchase gas which benefits the county. The department of commerce has indicated that having a community with rail service, freeway access and an airport are 3 important things that new business are looking for when sight selecting.”
The current Airport Board consists of Jared Simpson, Mike Hess, Terry Davis, Ben Gleckler, Scott Gunter, Parker Venable, Chesley Lewis, and Roxanne Albretsen. The Airport Manager is Chase Albretsen. Parker Venable was specifically thanked by the board for his many hours of work as the project manager, and his expertise.