Thunder Bay

Airport's secondary runway to close for refurbishment

The secondary runway at the Thunder Bay International Airport will be closed for much of the summer while it undergoes a complete overhaul.

"Largest capital project the Thunder Bay airport has ever undertaken" expected to take two months

Ryan Brading is the Manager of Airport Services with the Thunder Bay International Airports Authority Inc. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

The secondary runway at the Thunder Bay International Airport will be closed for much of the summer while it undergoes a complete overhaul.

Ryan Brading, Manager of Airport Services, said the work will bring runway 12-30 up to current Transport Canada standards. The runway, which runs north-south and intersects with the airport's main runway, hasn't been refurbished since 1984.

"The project is pushing $8 million total, so it's the largest capital project the Thunder Bay airport has ever undertaken," Brading said. "It's definitely time for some major improvements on that runway."

The refurbishment will include repaving along with other improvements, like new lighting and drainage.

"It's phased in three different stages," Brading said. "We had some challenges with staging, actually, because after we submitted our plan of construction to Transport Canada . . . we received confirmation that Westjet is coming through Thunder Bay with a Calgary-direct flight, starting in July."

That flight will see a Boeing 737 utilizing the airport's main runway, Brading said. However, the secondary runway intersects with the main runway, and the refurbishment project will require a portion of the main runway to be closed, as well.

Runway 12-30 at the Thunder Bay airport. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

The Westjet 737 will require the use of the entire main runway, Brading said. The airport is currently reworking the project schedule to make sure the refurbishment of the intersection of the two runways is completed when the new Westjet flight starts operating.

"We're working closely with (the contractors) to fully understand aviation safety in an active runway environment," Brading added. "In our construction plan, we have plans that account for the placement of barricades, pre-planned specific routes that they're to use on our perimeter road that goes around the airport."

Water bombers from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry hangar will be able to access runway 12-30 during the work period, Brading said, but only to taxi to the airport's main runway.

The project is expected to take about two months. Runway 12-30 will close at the end of May, and is scheduled to reopen by the end of July.

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