North Peace airport runway construction starts next week

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Runway 03/21 at the North Peace Regional Airport will be out of service starting Monday,…

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Runway 03/21 at the North Peace Regional Airport will be out of service starting Monday, July 12th, for major upgrades.

A project that has been in the planning phase since 2017 was announced in May after the airport received more than $8.2 million in grants from the federal government’s Airport Capital Assistance Program and the Northern Development Initiative Trust.

The project will include improvements to the runway with engineering and civil construction works, as well as electrical upgrades and a new emergency backup generator. The backup generator will be replaced later this summer.

North Peace Regional Airport Managing Director Mike Karsseboom expects the project to finish by mid-September.

“It’s about a 74-day project, so it’s quick, and it depends on how the weather is between now and then, of course,” said Karsseboom.

Summertime usually is the busiest time of year, but Karsseboom says it’s also the only season that major construction projects can be completed.

“This would traditionally be a time where we’re very busy, but construction needs to happen in the summer at the same time. It’s managing the impact of a runway closure to the overall operation while we’re still in the busiest part of the year.”

With runway 03/21 — running from the southwest to the northeast — out of commission, strong winds from the southwest or northeast could cause issues for planes trying to land on runway 12/30.

“Aircraft only have a certain amount of crosswind that they can manage take-off and landing, so as long as the winds don’t get crazy, we should be fine for normal operations all the way through construction.”

When it comes time to work on the intersection of both runways, Karsseboom says that part of the project will require night work.

“The intersection was rebuilt in 2005 when we had the main runway redone. There will be periods when workers get into the runway-protected area; that’s the area you really can’t have anybody in. All of that will be nighttime work.”

Airport runways are built a little differently from roads and highways, and it all depends on the type of aircraft that will take off and land on the tarmac.

“In our case, it’s a large 737 that we predicate all our stats on. The runway is stressed to allow regular use of operations of a very large 737 aircraft. That will ensure the longevity of the asphalt, so the asphalt is a very specific mix based on aviation use. It is specifically designed for the type of aircraft that we anticipate seeing over the next 20 years because we do have a long planning horizon for the airport.”

During the week-long heatwave in the northeast, Karsseboom says wildfire logistics activity ramped up temporarily.

“Over the last week and a half, we certainly started to see more activity at the firefighting base with aircraft movement. That seems to have slowed down a bit, which may speak to the number of wildfires near Fort St. John, but we certainly saw a significant increase in activity.”

Karsseboom says the airport is prepared to adjust construction crews and clear space for emergencies.

“That main runway will always be available for emergencies, medevac flights, those sorts of things. If there’s a requirement for medevac, we move all the people and equipment back from the main runway so that it’s fully operational when it’s needed.”

Do you have a news tip or a story idea?

Send it our way!

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.