Brandon Schwerdt

Brandon Schwerdt

Oswego County Airport manager: Federal funding for runway rehab propels Oswego County Airport to new heights

By Lou Sorendo

Q.: The Oswego County Airport has been awarded $213,200 in Federal Aviation Administration funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The funding will help begin the design phase to rehabilitate runway 6-24. How will this upgrade the facility?

A.: The surface of runway 6-24 is exhibiting signs of distress and wear. The design life for airport pavement is 20 years, and the pavement in question was last overlaid in 1997 and is due for rehabilitation. Removal and replacement of the bituminous surface will restore the runway surface to good condition, improve surface grades and reduce the risk of foreign object debris damage to aircraft. Each approach end of the runway will also be evaluated for drainage improvements to reduce wildlife attractants.

Q.: Can you give us an idea of how the project is going to be structured? What will be the first step in the process?

A.: The FAA funds airport construction projects in two phases — design and construction. This grant will fund 100% of the design phase. Once designed, the project will be publicly bid and awarded to the lowest qualified bidder. Oswego County will then apply for a subsequent FAA Airport Improvement Program construction funding grant.

Q.: What were the keys to successfully acquiring this funding?

A.: Oswego County has a great track record of obtaining and using available New York State Department of Transportation and FAA AIP funding grants for critical infrastructure improvement projects. Oswego County has experience managing aviation grants effectively and efficiently. Well-prepared grant applications with supporting documentation and justification is critical to compete for funding. We are also very fortunate to have C&S Companies in Syracuse as our airport consultant. It is critical to have a knowledgeable airport consultant who is familiar with the airport’s needs and FAA procedures and requirements.

Q.: Generally speaking, what benefits will the airport realize as a result of the project?

A.: Every aspect of the runway will be evaluated in this design phase. The current surface is starting to show signs of cracking and has deteriorated to the point that preventive maintenance activity is no longer considered cost effective. A full mill and overlay along with drainage improvements and new pavement markings will restore the runway and adjacent areas to the safest possible conditions.

Q.: Can you give us a sense of what national and international companies use the Oswego County Airport and to what extent?

A.: Various companies utilize the airport, including Exelon, Perdue, Sunoco, National Grid, Net Jets and Gypsum Express. We also have a lot of locally based companies [that] keep their airplanes here.

Q.: In general terms, can you characterize the economic impact that the airport has on Oswego County? In what ways is that most evident?

A.: The latest report from New York state shows the Oswego County Airport is directly or indirectly responsible for 25 jobs and $2.5 million in annual economic activity. What is not included in that study are patient air lift services and Mercy and Angel flights in and out of the airport, which are not easily quantified. Numerous local companies base their planes here, allowing them ease of travel. Having an airport in their back yard definitely plays a key role in their business.

Q.: How important is it to have the airport as part of the county’s infrastructure?

A.: The Oswego County Airport has continued to grow. The airport has attracted a number of corporate users as well as recreational users. In addition to corporate users, we have 80 aircraft based on the field with 42 county-owned T-hangars and eight more in process. All hangars are leased and there is a need for more.