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Public asked to weigh in on future of airport

August 22, 2014

Clint Quilter, Inyo County Public Works Director

Inyo County Public Works and Wadell Engineering Corporation are inviting residents to a series of public meetings next week designed to help shape the future of the Eastern Sierra regional Airport in Bishop.
On Aug. 25 and 26, Public Works will present the details of the Bishop Airport Layout Plan to interested community members.
According to county Public Works Director Clint Quilter, the layout plan builds upon the 2004 Bishop Airport Master Plan, prioritizing several key infrastructure improvements and upgrades discussed in the Master Plan.
Meetings will be held at 7 p.m. Monday Bishop City Hall, at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting in Independence and at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Sierra Life Flight Hangar at the Bishop Airport.
Representatives from Inyo Public Works and Wadell Engineering Corporation will make a 20-minute presentation with slides and photos. Afterwards, the public is welcome to ask questions, express support and/or raise potential concerns.
Earlier in July, Quilter discussed the potential availability of federal and state funding to develop and implement the ALP at both the Northern Inyo Airport Advisory Committee and Board of Supervisors meetings.
Recently, ICPW has been presenting details of the ALP to elected officials, community service providers and other local leaders, and is now excited to offer a multimedia presentation with details of the ALP and host question and answer and open comment sessions at three public forums.
“We’re aware that people have busy schedules and wanted to give community members a few different options, in terms of time and place, to weigh in on the ALP,” said Quilter. “So far the reaction we’ve received has been very positive and we’ve received several letters of support for the project. At these public meetings we’re hoping to hear from all interested parties.”
The Bishop Airport is a vital part of the community that receives daily flights, both public and private. Originally constructed in 1929, the airport currently has flights delivering express goods and mail, flights for emergency medical situations, firefighting flights and private flights for pleasure, business travelers and airplane aficionados.
Today, 10 years after the Board of Supervisors adoption of the Bishop Airport Master Plan, the Bishop Airport is in need of critical, safety-related infrastructure improvements, according to the county. In April of 2011, the county obtained an easement in perpetuity for all airport related use at the Bishop Airport from the City of Los Angeles. The easement gave Inyo County property rights and permission to handle all improvements and upgrades at the airport and, in turn, paved the way for the county to apply for Federal Aviation Administration grant funding to implement the strategies laid out in the 2004 Bishop Airport Master Plan.
“We’re really focused on obtaining federal and state funding for the pressing, safety-related needs at the airport,” said Quilter. “However, we’re also keeping our eye on the bigger picture as we plan these improvements. We want to keep our options open to potentially provide expanded capabilities and improved services at the airport.”
With an initial FAA grant in hand, this past year Inyo County hired Wadell Engineering Airport Planners & Engineers located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded in 1974, Wadell has completed more than 450 successful aviation projects and has a 40-year relationship with the FAA. Wadell has used its experience and expertise to develop airport plans that meet the FAA requirements and standards necessary for federal funding.
Bob Wadell, a registered civil engineer and certificated aircraft pilot with more than 40 years’ experience as an airport planner and engineer, is leading the planning and design projects for Inyo County. Wadell’s presentation will describe the initial stages of ALP development, review the Bishop Airport Master Plan, describe the draft ALP process, and outline a time frame for the ALP to be completed and submitted to the FAA.
Key components of the ALP will be to update the Bishop Airport’s inventory of facilities, to establish forecasts of demand and new facility requirements to meet FAA standards, to prepare a 20-year capital improvement program and to provide an updated narrative report. The ALP will be completed by summer 2015. Ninety percent of the funding for the plan is provided by the FAA and 4.5 percent with a California State Aeronautics matching grant.
There are several high-priority infrastructure needs at the Bishop Airport. First and foremost are upgrading all airport lighting and signage. Additional needs are replacing the existing Visual Approach Slope Indicators with modern Precision Approach Path Indicators, adding Runway End Identifier Lights at four runway ends and installing security fencing, rehabilitating runway and taxiway pavements. Other needs include access road and terminal area improvements.
According to county Public Works, the lighting and signing projects are currently out for public bids, with a bid opening in September 2014.
Inyo County is also upgrading the Lone Pine Airport and will be installing a new automated weather observing system to enhance the safety and usefulness of Lone Pine Airport.
“We think this is a great opportunity to apply for and take advantage of outside funding sources to enhance a regional resource,” said Inyo County Administrator Kevin Carunchio. “If we find the Eastern Sierra community supports the potential improvements and upgrades to the Bishop Airport, this could be just the beginning.”
For those members of the community interested in commenting on the ALP but unable to attend the upcoming meetings, Inyo County has established the following email address where comments can be submitted: bishopairportplan@inyocounty.us.

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