Eagle County airport work spreads wealth | VailDaily.com

Eagle County airport work spreads wealth

Vail Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – The Eagle County Regional Airport runway expansion project is well underway and the county’s Road and Bridge and Project Management departments are putting asphalt millings from the project to good use.

As the existing runway is removed, the resulting material, known as millings, is being recycled at the airport as well as other areas including Cottonwood Pass, Freedom Park and the landfill.

Approximately 120,000 tons of millings are expected to be generated during the course of the airport project. Of those, 62,000 tons will be reused at the airport for safety improvements including runway shoulders, blast pads and an overrun extension, as well as parking lot and access road upgrades; 40,000 tons will be used on an eight mile stretch between Gypsum and Cattle Creek on Cottonwood Pass; 5,000 tons will be used to improve the Freedom Park parking lot; and 5,000 tons will be used at the parking lot for the new recycling facility being constructed at the landfill.

According to Road and Bridge Director Brad Higgins, material for road base costs the county approximately $14 per ton. Recycling the millings not needed at the airport will save the county around $700,000.

“The benefits of using this material, and using it now, are significant,” said Higgins. “In addition to cost savings, stockpiling the millings would have required taking space from a working hay field near the airport. And, as the pile compacted, the material would become less usable.”

County Construction Manager Rick Ullom agrees. “We’re saving money, we’re keeping the millings out of our landfill and we’re able to get projects done that otherwise may not have occurred this year,” said Ullom.

Trucks already on-site at the airport are assisting in transporting the millings to other project areas.

One such area is Cottonwood Pass, where improvements to the road are a priority due to its importance as an access in and out of the county. Although it’s classified as a minimum maintenance road and is not plowed during the winter, Cottonwood Pass has had to accommodate heavy use in the past.

“When a falling boulder closed I-70 through Glenwood Canyon during Thanksgiving two years ago, we had over 3,000 cars come over Cottonwood Pass,” said Higgins. “We want to ensure the road can handle that kind of load if we need it again in the future.” The millings also will provide reduced maintenance costs and assist in dust abatement along the road.

The parking lots at Freedom Park and at the new recycling facility at the landfill will utilize much of the remaining millings. “Were getting a lot of mileage out of this material,” said Higgins.

The airport runway expansion project began April 15 and is expected to continue through Aug. 31. Air traffic is currently limited to smaller, private aircraft with commercial service scheduled to resume Sept. 1. For more information, visit http://www.eaglecounty.us/airport.