The city of Corvallis is about to embark upon what appears to be the longest and most expensive fence project in its history.
The city has received a $2.15 million grant from the federal government that will pay for a new fence around the entire 1,1000-acre Corvallis Municipal Airport property south of town.
The fence will be 19,000 linear feet, or 3.6 miles.
The airport improvement grant was announced by House Rep. Peter DeFazio, who noted “This is great news for the city of Corvallis and all who use this airport to travel to and from the Willamette Valley. This is a perfect example of how federal and local governments can work together on important investments that support local businesses and the general aviation community.”
The city plans to design and build the fence next year, said Tony Beach, airport and parking program specialist for Corvallis.
Beach gave the Gazette-Times a tour Thursday morning, which gave him the opportunity to show off the new rehabilitated runway and other bells and whistles in addition to scoping out the fence project.
The city finished the heavy lifting on the runway project in September, with just “punch list” tweaks remaining. The project reconfigured two taxiways, added an asphalt overlay on a runway plus constructed new edge drains, replaced an aging drainage system, added edge lights for the runway and taxiways as well as a new emergency generator.
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The $8 million runway project also was funded primarily by the federal government.
The goals of the fencing program, Beach said, are general security and safety as well as wildlife exclusion. The impact of birds on aircraft engines are well known, but land mammals also are a problem, Beach said.
“A deer running across the runway and being hit by a plane can have significant impacts,” Beach said, noting that other common visitors to the airport include coyotes and elk.
The new fence will be 8-feet high and also will include a below-the-ground component to prevent burrowing.
Contracts for the fence are about to go out for bid, Beach said, with Precision Approach Engineering — an Airport Industrial Park tenant — serving as project consultants. The firm also worked with the city on the runway project.
The turnaround from the runway to the fence project will be a quick one, Beach said, because the environmental assessments required for the runway work also will serve for the fence work.
The airport supports a wide range of flight activity, including recreational flights, business trips and commercial cargo from UPS and FedEx. On Aug. 21, 2017, planes were landing at the rate of one per minute for the solar eclipse. Airport officials had to use runways to park them all.
“A lot of people don’t even know Corvallis has an airport,” Beach said. “I’ve read studies that show that $31 million in direct and indirect business benefits stems from the airport. People fly in here and rent cars, stay in our hotels and eat at local restaurants.
“The airport does a lot for the local community. It’s good for business all around.”