BLACKFOOT – The annual airport meeting held at McCarley Field airport in Blackfoot covered some important items. Most notably, the potential requirement by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) to move the greenbelt away from the runway.
As the engineers from T.O. Engineering explained to those in attendance, although the walking path is not a visual issue, there are safety concerns from the FAA, which has a requirement of 200 feet from the midpoint of the runway to any object that could be considered an obstruction. Some pilots at the meeting were less than enthused to hear this information, but those presenting from T.O. explained that without following the FAA's requirements, they risk losing federal grant money.
The gentlemen from the engineering firm, also explained that they will be performing fly-overs in the area, to record any obstacles or visual obstructions in the immediate airspace once the trees are in full bloom.
The engineers also explained about future runway projects that would cost millions of dollars, could include using a fabric in the asphalt that would help prevent breakdown. One pilot in attendance questioned the engineers, "Why are we ripping the federal government off? Doing asphalt shouldn't cost that much." The question was quickly answered, explaining that to meet FAA requirements, the composition of the runway has certain requirements, and advised that the city would have to foot the bill if they wanted to use any other type of asphalt. The discussion continued, explaining that the runway project is still years off from needing addressed, and then explained that the only issues in the runway currently are cracks, and will need to be sealed in the near future. T.O. Engineering also expressed that the runway project will hinge on whether or not the city, FAA, and the state can come to an agreement on what to do with the greenbelt, because the greenbelt is on state land because it resides in an area that was previously the Snake River bed.
Other aviators asked questions regarding moving the runway, or extending it on the north end, and abandoning the distance necessary on the south side. Explanations were presented referencing the requirements of the National Environmental Protection Areas (NEPA) and their studies they would have to carry out for this option to even begin to be explored.
T.O. Engineers advised waiting for a response following the obstruction surveys they will be carrying out as well as response from the FAA on what their expectations will be.
The last item introduced by the engineering company was that of purchasing lots in Harbor View because they will be in the restricted zone for the southern approach of the airport. They also explained that the airspace above the homes in the area will have restrictions on how tall the homes, outbuildings, and landscaping can be. In the direct impacted area, the maximum height will be 19 feet, and the surrounding area will be 30 feet.
As the projects continue to come to fruition, the engineers will present the future plans.