Blair Airport Authority unveils refurbished runway

Ben Stapelfeld (left) and Tracy Plessinger talk with U.S. Rep. John Joyce (right) on the newly refurbished runway at the Altoona-Blair County Airport on Thursday morning. Mirror photo by Phil Ray

After several years of planning, the Blair County Airport Authority on Thursday morning officially opened its refurbished east-west runway.

U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-13th District, who worked to provide funding for the upgrade of the 75-foot wide, 3,668-foot long runway, said the reconstruction effort will improve safety at the airport and attract additional commercial and corporate air traffic.

“This is the flight path for the future,” he said, referring not only to the improved runway as an asset to the airport but as a generator for the area’s economy.

Blair County Commissioner Amy Webster, the county’s liaison to the authority, said the runway improvement comes at the right time, noting the authority expects to soon offer jet service through Contour Airlines of Smyrna, Tenn., which represents yet another effort to improve service at the facility located near Martinsburg.

“This is wonderful. This is just perfect,” Webster said after a very short ceremony near the airport hangars and the terminal building.

Ben Stapelfeld Jr. of Hollidaysburg, a Blair County businessman and longtime member of the Airport Authority, is also a pilot.

He attested to the comment by Joyce that the runway project will improve safety for aircraft.

He said the crosswind runway that is often used by aircraft during high-wind conditions on the main north-south runway, previously had cracked pavement and grass along its surface.

The new surface will provide greater safety for aircraft, he explained.

He said it will also allow more commercial traffic as well.

Airport Manager Tracy Plessinger described the project “as the rehabilitation of our runway 12/30 and our primary wind cone segmented circle,” referring to numbers and items that are visible to pilots coming into or taking off from the facility.

He pointed out that the project included a design phase funded through the Federal Aviation Administration, PennDOT and the county.

The construction phase was funded through COVID-19 relief funds, Plessinger said.

The project was accomplished over several years, from 2019-22.

Plessinger said the project, which cost $2,520,511, was planned and constructed by three primary contractors:

* Delta Airport Consultants of Dauphin County did the design work for $379,800.

* New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. Inc. of Blair County reconstructed the runway, $1,503,223.

* Cottle’s Asphalt Service of Bedford County, $637,488.

“The project included milling, paving, grooving and marking the runway surface,” he said.

Joyce, viewing the newly completed runway, characterized it as “state-of-the-art design.”

He concluded by noting that the airport upgrade was completed by local businesses.


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