State panel delays vote on 2018 airport projects but okays $50,000 for new pavement standards

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PIERRE — Members of state government's Aeronautics Commission chose to wait rather than act Tuesday on improvements proposed for South Dakota public airports next year.

They delayed the vote in case other cities submit plans by the Dec. 1 state deadline. The next meeting is Jan. 23.

The 38 projects so far seek more than $19 million of federal grants, according to a preliminary list distributed to commissioners.

The panel agreed however to spend up to $50,000 for South Dakota-specific pavement standards at general-aviation airports.

"We think it will be significantly less," Jack Dokken said. He is program manager for the air, rail and transit office in the state Department of Transportation.

Dokken said 50 different airports paid at least $3,000 or more apiece two years ago in pavement-variance requests to the Federal Aviation Administration.

"We had to have one for every project," he said.

The new state standards would apply on runways handling aircraft up to 12,500 pounds and would allow construction companies to buy lower-cost local materials.

"I think that will be a good thing in the long run," commission chairman Eric Odenbach of Eureka said.

Andy Peek, who is FAA manager for the Dakotas and Minnesota, met with the commission Tuesday and reviewed various changes in how the agency operates.

Peek said FAA prefers arrival-departure buildings that are less expensive and encourages state development of pavement standards for lesser-weight runways.

He said the agency discourages funding for fueling systems except when fuels weren't previously offered.

The FAA wants federal, state and local officials and consulting teams to be present together on each project, Peek said.

"So everybody's nodding their heads and it moves forward," he said.

The full preliminary list of 2018 proposed projects is on page three at " target="_blank">bit.ly/2jvAW3B.