Nfld. & Labrador

Crumbling runway at Goose Bay airport getting major repair, overhaul

Goose Bay's runway will get some short-term and long-term work, starting this summer, to repair damage.

The federal government announced spending to upgrade the ageing runway and eventually replace it

A plane sits on the tarmac at 5 Wing Goose Bay. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The runway at CFB Goose Bay will be repaved, thanks to $30 million in funding from the Department of National Defence to cover the costs of that and a few other projects at the Labrador base, the federal government announced Monday.

"We wanted to ensure that we were demonstrating the long-term commitment to 5 Wing and to the people that work here," said Yvonne Jones, member of Parliament for Labrador.

About $2.3 million in runway repairs are planned at 5 Wing Goose Bay in the short term, with a full repaving project and airfield lighting upgrades set for the next few years, said a release from the federal government.

The base's runways were built in the 1950s and are nearing the end of their service life, the release said.

Jones said an independent review of 5 Wing Goose Bay completed this spring showed that the airfield needed immediate work. That review led to temporary restrictions for heavy aircraft on the runway.

Markland Paving in St. John's was awarded the contract for the repairs, and should be on the ground in a matter of days, she said.

The work is expected to be completed in the next couple of months, she said. When it's done. the restrictions will be lifted.

Funding increases for 5 Wing

"It's definitely time for this," said Lt.-Col. Stéphane Racle, 5 Wing's commander.

The aging runway was experiencing issues like asphalt stripping, debris and potholes, which required vigilance to keep it safe and restricted operations, she said.

At the same time, activity is up at the base, which hosts harsh-environment training.

The infrastructure issues have affected both scheduled service for the runway and its availability of an emergency option, said Goronwy Price, CEO of the Goose Bay Airport Corporation. There's been a noticeable drop in gas-and-go traffic in Goose Bay, Price said.

Monday's announcement adds consistency for the many airlines that fly over the airstrip, he said, and proves the airport has longevity.

"This investment of over $30 million in refurbishing our main runway is absolutely significant."

A tender for the work on runway lighting and repaving is expected  this summer, the government said, and the work will be done to ensure one of 5 Wing's runways is always operational.

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