MERIDEN — A $1.88 million project to replace Meriden Markham Airport’s aging runway and taxiway began earlier this week.
That work will continue on the municipal airport until Oct. 21, according to a notice regarding the project.
Meanwhile, two large lighted “X” signs have been installed along both ends of the runway, indicating it is closed to departing and arriving aircraft. According to construction bid documents, other construction barriers are to be installed while the project is underway.
Constance Castillo, the airport’s manager, said the work, which is being completed by Tilcon Connecticut, Inc., began on-time — at 7 a.m. last Monday.
It had been 16 years since the 3,100-by-75-foot asphalt runway had been repaved.
In addition to the installation of a new surface, the runway is also being regraded. The project also includes LED lighting upgrades and replacing some of the drainage along the west side of the runway.
When the project is complete the Evansville Avenue airport will have “an entirely new runway and taxiway,” Castillo said. Stantec, an international construction design firm with offices in Connecticut, is the project’s supervisor, along with Meriden Markham officials.
The entire cost of the project is covered by a Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program grant. Typically those projects require a local match of at least 10%. That local obligation, about $188,000, has been waived for this project.
Once the paving work is complete, the runway will be “restriped” with new reflective markings, Castillo said.
Castillo said most of the airport’s 68 tenants have temporarily relocated to other hangars at neighboring airports. About a dozen or so tenants have stayed behind, she said.
“The hangars are still accessible for tenants in the building,” Castillo.
The airport’s administrative staff, including Castillo, and its engineers will remain on site while the project is underway. Meanwhile, the airport gate is closed to the public.
Other airport improvement projects are in the pipeline over the next few years. Those projects include updates to the airport’s two main gates and the repaving of ramps and other services and the expansion of motor vehicle parking lots.
City Councilor Sonya Jelks, the council’s representative on the Aviation Commission, described the airport as a “viable resource” for the city. She said the runway upgrades “are certainly needed.”
Officials have discussed the potential for other improvements to the airport down the line. Jelks said those discussions have included talk about recruiting food vendors and the possible addition of a restaurant at the airport.
“The airport is one of those amenities we have that a lot of municipalities don’t have. It’s a huge asset for us,” Jelks said.
“I’m very excited that we continue to see good things happening like this in Meriden. We want to be as supportive as we can in these efforts.”