By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6
BARTLESVILLE, OK -- The Bartlesville Airport has begun construction on its federally-funded runway improvement project. But, what kind of difference will the project actually make for taxpayers?
The city-run Bartlesville Airport operates at a loss, meaning the money coming in isn't enough to pay for the maintenance and upkeep. But now, a $4 million stimulus construction project is underway, and officials are confident repaving the runway will lead to a brighter future.
The main runway has been shut down for the last week.
Now the advisory tower is diverting traffic to the taxiway, instead. Three months after Bartlesville accepted $4 million in stimulus funding, construction is underway. They're replacing airport asphalt with concrete.
"It's another tool in the tool belt as far as development and opportunities for development," said City of Bartlesville Engineer Terry Lauritsen.
The municipal airport averages one flight an hour. A handful of those are corporate flights from Conoco-Philips. The runway is littered with cracks. City leaders say that keeps potential flyers away.
"I think it's a very important project for the City of Bartlesville, and especially the airport," said Bartlesville Airport Manager Rick Boswell.
But still, the airport handles roughly two dozen flights daily.
Bartlesville's engineer believes the project will benefit taxpayers.
"I would think so, as a smaller community, you have to be positioned to capture development if and when it arises. And, if you don't have an airport that eliminates a lot of opportunities that you could have," said City of Bartlesville Engineer Terry Lauritsen.
Lauritsen says part of the potential is increased corporate flights down the road which could bring new business to Bartlesville.
The project will take about four months to complete. Airport officials estimate the repaving project will put 40 to work.