With heavy rain experienced over the weekend and more on the way, Bega Valley Shire Council is flagging the possibility of a delay to the re-opening of Merimbula Airport.
The runway extension and strengthening project has been progressing well, however high levels of rain predicted this week may delay the planned re-opening currently scheduled for Monday 14 March.
Project Services Manager, Daniel Djikic said Council has been working closely with the airlines and is doing what it can to minimise the impact of the enforced weather delays on the project and flight scheduling.
“This time of year is traditionally the hottest and driest part of the year, making it the ideal time to strengthen and re-seal the runway,” Mr Djikic said.
“Our contingency planning allowed for some wet weather delays, however the high amount of rainfall we’ve had wasn’t something we could realistically plan for.
“We’ve already completed the extensions north and south of the runway, strengthened and stabilised the taxiways and apron, and sealed about 80% of the runway with its first coat.
“To complete the resealing, we need a couple of dry days to allow the pavement to dry out which then allows the sealing of the remainder of the runway, taxiways and apron.
“Waiting for the pavement to dry sufficiently is a critical step—without this, we may need to do further repair work much sooner than planned or more importantly, we could inadvertently create safety issues if the seal doesn’t stick to the stone underneath.
“Once the final seal is finished, we’ll need a few more days to finish the line marking and complete the final safety checks before the airport re-opens.
“Depending on what happens with the weather over the next 48 to 72 hours, we should be in a much better position to know the full impacts on the project this Friday. In the meantime, we are working closely with the airlines and emergency services, and will make the necessary adjustments to ensure we can complete the project to the required standards.
“Once complete, the project will provide a runway suitable for larger aircraft and increased passenger numbers, both of which will improve the level of service to the shire’s residents, tourists and businesses into the future.”
Works on the general aviation precinct have also been delayed due to rain, however this will not impact the re-opening of the airport.
The project is funded through two grants from the Commonwealth Government, two grants from the NSW Government and a Council contribution.
More information about the project is available on Council’s website.