Airport commission: Bids awarded for 2 upcoming projects

The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport commission June 14 awarded two low bids for upcoming construction projects at the airport. One project helps clear the way for the planned construction of a new general aviation terminal building, while the oth...

Photographs of and from planes - through aerial photograph - decorate the walls at the airport.
A sign in the terminal of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport welcomes travelers in this file photo.

The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport commission June 14 awarded two low bids for upcoming construction projects at the airport.

One project helps clear the way for the planned construction of a new general aviation terminal building, while the other makes sure pavement at the airport stays up to snuff. The airport's consulting engineer for both projects, as well as the general aviation terminal project, is Mead & Hunt.

In a phone interview with the Brainerd Dispatch, airport director Steve Wright provided details about both projects. A project to replace and relocate an aging fuel system received one bid. The commission accepted the $558,600 bid submitted by Eagle Construction Company, which was 24 percent higher than the engineer's estimate of $450,000.

The airport next year is planning to build a new general aviation terminal building, Wright said, and in order for that to happen, two existing fuel tanks have to be removed and relocated. Only one tank will be relocated, he said, as the airport will no longer sell motor vehicle gas. The new aviation fuel tank will be located at the existing airline fueling area.

"It helps the airport on the environmental standpoint, too," Wright said. "Where we're taking two fueling areas and we're co-mingling it into one."


A new general aviation terminal building will give general aviation users a new front door to the airport, Wright said. The new building will be adjacent to the current general aviation terminal, he said, and remain connected to the existing commercial terminal area. Both the commercial and general aviation terminals need to be close to the Wings Cafe, he said.

"Both facilities depend on each other," Wright said.

Currently, general aviation users and restaurant customers share the same lobby area, Wright said. Building a new general aviation terminal will give those users and customers more space, he said.

"We do need to separate the general aviation reception and counter away from the restaurant," Wright said.

The new general aviation terminal building will be designed this winter and put out for bids in early 2018, Wright said, so construction can begin in August of 2018.

Previously, the project has included relocating Federal Aviation Administration antennas, so a new hangar building could be built, Wright said. The new hangar could be located somewhere that doesn't impact the antennas, he said, meaning the antennas wouldn't have to be moved. Those plans are still up in the air, though, he said.

A project to repave the taxilane and crack seal taxiway A received two bids. The commission accepted the low bid of $740,523 from Tri-City Paving, which was 42 percent lower than the engineer's estimate for the project. The other bid for the project, from Anderson Brothers Construction, was $900,374. The engineer's estimate for the project was $1.2 million.

Every three years, the Minnesota Department of Transportation office of aeronautics evaluates pavement conditions at the airport, Wright said. The pavement in the hangar area is called the taxilane, he said, and the office has determined this pavement is beginning to appear in poor condition.


"That's where the pavements are starting to crack beyond what crack sealing would be enough," Wright said. "So those pavements need to be rehabilitated."

When pavement in an airport starts cracking to the point where chunks are loosened, those chunks can be sucked into airplane engines or nick propellers, Wright said.

As part of this project, taxiway A will be crack sealed, as the pavement is still in good condition, Wright said. The taxiway refers to pavement running from the hangar areas to the runways, he said, and taxiway A is the main taxiway at the airport.

The airport has applied for Federal Aviation Administration grant funding for both projects, Wright said, and the projects will hopefully be completed this fall. The taxilane and taxiway project can be completed in 40 days between two phases, he said, and can begin in late August or early September. The fuel tank project can be done in about the same amount of time, he said, and both projects could take place at the same time.

Contractors have said an early construction season led to them setting up projects for the fall, Wright said. This has been leading to favorable project bids throughout the state, he said, as seen in the repavement and crack sealing project coming in under the engineer's estimate. On the flip side, the fuel tank project featured a good pre-bid meeting with four interested parties, he said, but the meeting only generated one bid for the project.

"It's very difficult to estimate that," Wright said. "On some projects you get under, on some projects you end up over."

The local portion of the project costs will come from the airport capital improvement fund, Wright said. The majority of the fund's contributions come from airport user fees, he said, and the fund was established to cover the local portions of federal and state projects.

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