Airport Warns Again Dredging Plans

CHO says not to count on them for dumping silt—they have no idea how long it’ll be until they extend their runway.  #

22 Responses to “Airport Warns Again Dredging Plans”

  • Wow…this is very different from what the anti Water Supply Plan clan and the Hook have stated. They made it sound like the airport was a very possible destination for the dredged material. I guess that option is off the table.

  • No, it definitely is not off the table. Hutchinson just said that the airport is not ready to move forward with building its runway and therefore do not count on its buying the sediment, even if stored in the nearby quarry. This is not news. If the dredged material can be recycled cheaply, there will be many buyers. Those who use the airport should hope and pray that the dredging material can be used, otherwise the airport may have to pass on the higher cost of fill onto its customers.
    Oh, I just noticed the scroll bars and side bars. I hope it wasn’t a big to-do, Waldo.

  • We’ve got the audio of Hutchison’s presentation at Charlottesville Tomorrow, as well as audio of the phone call with Chris Gibson of dredging firm Gahagan and Bryant.

  • Something to keep in mind regarding the airport’s potential involvement in this is the fact that the airport cannot directly specify the source of the fill to be used for the runway extension, as the airport itself would not be buying the fill.

    The vast majority of the funding for the extension would be FAA-sourced, and using federal funds would subject the airport to various rules regarding project bidding, etc.

    In a nutshell, the winning bidder for the extension (rather than the airport itself) would be purchasing the fill, and that bidder would be free to choose whatever externally-sourced fill it pleases; the airport cannot compel the winning bidder to use one particular external source of fill over another.

    Thus, even if the runway extension is fully funded and the reservoir fill found suitable for the extension, the airport cannot guarantee that it will use the fill. And, that being the case, it would be irresponsible of water-supply planners to factor an assumption regarding the airport’s use of the fill into their project-evaluation process.

  • I just read the description of Executive Director Hutchison’s remarks in Sean Tubb’s story (linked above), and she made the same point (one of many).

  • That should read “…Executive Director Hutchinson’s remarks…”

  • I believe that the idea came about when people started questioning what would happen to the dredged material and how much it would cost to haul the material away. Several people responded that it should be investigated and said, for example, the airport is about to construct a new runaway and MAY wish to use this material IF its level of contamination proves to be low enough to be used. Then it was said that the material would have to be dried out somewhere before it is hauled away and it was suggested that maybe a nearby farm would allow it to be housed on a short-term basis. Then it was said that it would take an ordinate amount of trucking to remove it to some place when drid and it was suggest that a sluice be constructed to send it directly to the airport and let it dry there. Then Hurt’s group suggested that they store it in a quarry and let them dispose of it, either at the airport or Hurt’s group could sell it or use it as fill dirt on one of his numerous projects.
    No one that I know of has said that the airport should definitely do anything with the dredging material. Hutchinson has made it clear that, although they have some funds for the project, they are not certain if or when they will be able to move forward on their project and therefore any plans for the immediate use of the material by the airport may have no legs.
    However, it would be totally irresponsible for the matter not to be explored as a possibility because the bidder may be able to get the material at such a reduced price that it would be very unprofitable for him not use it.

  • One thing is very clear, the majority in the community are making it clear that they expect for RWSA to not let the SFRR become a silted swamp and dredging is down the road. What to do with the sediment will have to be answered then. Maybe RWSA can use it to help construct the vast road network at the new 112-foot Ragged MOunatain Hoover Dam. What a wonderful sight from I-64. I think a few silos and water tanks ought to embellish the top and maybe they could install some wind turbines and sell some electricity. Oh, I hope people do not take these ideas as recommendations. All of that stuff would have compete with the FAA warning tower that will have to be constructed.

  • The airport is not constructing a new runway. The project in question is an 800-foot extension to the northeastern end of the current 6001-foot runway.

  • New, extension is it really of significance to the disposal of the dredge material? They may never construct the planned extension and they may construct a new runway. Who knows?

  • Well, as a member of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Joint Airport Commission for the past five years, I know at least a little. :)

    Current airport-layout diagrams include a phased extension of the current runway, and some preparatory work related to this extension has already been awarded funding. Nothing similar can be said regarding construction of a new runway.

    Constructing a new runway would essentially be a from-scratch proposition. That would push the time-line out quite a bit (years!) and definitely be of significance to the disposal of the dredge material.

  • And, unless the authority floats some bonds or is gifted by Bill Gates it may take years before the airport has enough money to build the runway extension period. My point is that the publicly vocal proponents of “dredging first” were trying to give an example of how not enough thought and investigation were given to the option of dredging to provide the main source of our future water needs and not just maintenance. Another option that has not been fully explored is a new Buck Mountain reservoir. Of course it has been stated that the feds (Army Corps of Engineers) would not grant a permit because of the endangered James spinymussel was spotted somewhere under a bridge, but since no one has come forward to verify this spotting in writing, it should be taken a mere rumor. The state has not said what plans to do with the W. Bypass right-of-way but nobody’s conjecturing that this project will not be able to use it. The whole development process for this project seems to me to be a project of high schoolers, and not the top ones at that. It is rife with brain-storming, opinion, rumor and lacks substantial amounts of investigation and data.

  • Cville Eye,

    Your initial statement (assertion) is inaccurate: the Airport Authority needs neither a large bond float nor a wealthy private patron to fund the runway extension.

    The federal government maintains a trust fund, the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF), to fund, through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), airport capital improvements, among other things.



    Eligible projects (such as this runway extension) are AIP funded at up to 95% of eligible costs; other funding sources, such as the State of Virginia, are available to fund much of the remaining amount.

  • Yes, I’ve read that when I was trying to find out who was on the airport board and how was he chosen. You are an authority answerable to the state and not the hosting locality. Got it. Any money in the AATF allocated for the construction of the runway?

  • Cville Eye,

    Though the Airport Authority itself is indeed chartered by, and thus ultimately answerable to, the state[1] (much the same as any municipality), its commission and board members are appointed locally, and, in my opinion, this makes the authority answerable to the hosting locality through the political process, albeit indirectly.

    There are seven commissioners, all of whom serve a maximum of three 3-year terms: three commissioners are appointed by the City of Charlottesville[2], three are appointed by Albemarle County, and one is appointed jointly by the city and the county.

    There are three board members, all of whom sit ex officio: the joint city/county commission appointee, the City Manager, and the County Executive.

    [1] Code of Virginia 5.1-35 and 5.1-36.
    [2] I’m a city appointee: I was first appointed by the Charlottesville City Council in 2003, under Mayor Cox, and I was reappointed in 2006.

  • Yes, that is on the airport’s website. Appointments to the BAR, Planning Commission, housing authority, jail authority, etc. are de facto NOT answerable to the public. They can all vote in 100% opposition to 100% of the members of the public on many issues and have their way. That’s why I favor all seats on our authorities to be elected. In fact, I have seen little evidence where our city manager is answerable to the public. Quite frankly, I don’t give a set of rabbit ears about the local airport; I haven’t used it in 35 years. Since then, I’ve flown out of Dulles or Richmond. Nowe, I prefer any mode of transportation other than flying. The story here is that Hutchinson has said to the task force that the airport authority can not guarantee its impending project can not be guaranteed by the authority to use the dredging material and that’s that. What the proponents of dredging have been advocating is a deeper look into deployment of the dredging material which a valid request made of people (authority) that is attacking this problem-solving process in a very sophomoric way.

  • Answerable to the public (directly) and answerable through the political process are two very different concepts.

    By “people (authority)” in your last paragraph, I take it you’re referring to RWSA?

  • Yes, RWSA.

  • I’m totally unqualified to vote on the members of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Joint Airport Commission, the housing authority, the jail authority and, for the matter, treasurer and clerk of court. What in the world do I know about serving on the airport commission?

  • You will know as much as you find out as you will know as much as you find out about a congressman or president. You will be just as qualified. Neither of us know much about either of those offices however that doesn’t stop us from voting. You do more homework than most people. As for the Clerk of Court, usually there are no “issues” in Chalbemarle so most people vote party. Quite frankly I think the clerk’s job is primarily secretarial nw, but probably had more of a political importance during the days of Jefferson. It wouldn’t bother me if it ceased being an elected office.
    BTW, if you had been voted on to council several years ago would you think you would have been more qualified to make appointments to those authority positions? I’d say you’d have been just as qualified as those who do.

  • You will know as much as you find out as you will know as much as you find out about a congressman or president. You will be just as qualified. Neither of us know much about either of those offices however that doesn’t stop us from voting.

    Nah, I don’t buy that. The goings-on of congress and president are enormously public, the subject of unending scrutiny and media coverage. We are all well aware of the issues that they need to weigh, and the characteristics and experience that tend to make for a good candidate. What are the characteristics that make for a good airport commission member? I dunno. I wouldn’t even know how to find out. I don’t even know what they do. These sorts of positions are just too specialized, and are just of too little interest to the public, for voters to be informed about their use.

    BTW, if you had been voted on to council several years ago would you think you would have been more qualified to make appointments to those authority positions?

    I should hope so. If I went to all of the meetings and did all of the work that goes into being on council, and didn’t have a pretty good idea of what went into those positions after a year or so, I’d have to be pretty dense. :) Fundamentally, your question is whether Joe Involved Citizen is generally as qualified to make judgements about how to run a department or a commission than somebody who is on council. In the case of this Joe Citizen, I feel pretty confident that I’m not as qualified as a council member.

  • Experienced councilors, maybe, but not freshmen. It was only a couple of years ago that council was elected in May and had to make appoints in July and August.
    Congress deals with politically pushing a philosophical agenda through human dynamics. Authorities rarely get involved with that. Their main function is to manage: establish a budget and establish over-arching policies to be implemented by an capable director (yes, oversimplification) and I’m sure you know people who can perform those duties well. If the applicant doesn’t have those skill sets in his resumé, then I wouldn’t vote for him. I, personally would rather leave the seat vacant than fill it with someone who has no idea what he’s doing.

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