… a runway was lost. Episode 6 of the MYF Runway 23 Reconstruction Fiasco … or is this episode 465?
What has the Montgomery Field Airports Administration folk been up to, lately?
Okay, ask, if you must.
A number of individuals were invited to an early evening MYF airport users meeting on September 8, 2016. The airport manager was quite pleased at the turnout, which one attendee estimated at between 25 and 30. The agenda included updates on actions the airports administration folk have taken, as well as some changes involving air traffic control procedures at Montgomery Field. Here are the highlights … well, more appropriately … the lowlights.
First, we learned that, to date, the total expenditure for the Runway 23 reconstruction fiasco approaches $5,800,000.00 – but that figure will grow. The year and a half horror was completed, sort of, in August 2016, but tasks remain to be finished. We haven’t addressed the water pooling beneath the recently completed Runway 23, and we’re not sure when that will happen.
In addition, we cannot access the newly completed Runway 23 on the ground. That’s because Taxiway Charley, the only route to the approach end of 23 – absent back-taxiing its entire length – has been damaged by the heavy equipment that abused the taxiway in the reconstruction project.
Well, there’s that … and the fact that the City, in its infinite wisdom (the use of that word is sarcasm, friends, in case you’re not regular readers of these rants) has chosen to let the Fire Department land its helicopters on the taxiway. Oh … and the helicopter pad built by the City is, maybe, ten feet from the taxiway so that when one of the twin-engined fire helos fires up, the taxiway – if it’s ever repaired – will be unusable for airplanes accessing Runway 23 because of the severe rotor wash from those big Hueys. ATC is developing procedures for that eventuality that will involve keeping fixed wing traffic safe – but those procedures won’t be needed, of course, until there’s a useable taxiway.
There is a possibility that the City Airport folk can persuade the City paving folk to repave Taxiway Charley. But, if you live in San Diego, you’re aware of the dreadful condition into which city streets have been allowed to decay, and I’m guessing that getting the City paving folk to work on a taxiway that might be used by VERY few taxpayers will be as hard a sell as convincing thinking folk that Donald Trump, the misogynistic, racist, moronic Republican candidate for president, is a good man.
Which probably leaves us in limbo. The City may have to engage a private construction firm to repair and repave Taxiway Charley, but considering how well the City manages private construction firms – and considering how long it will take to get an approval through the City Real Estate Department, and City Council – we may as well resign ourselves to the fact that Taxiway Charley may not be repaired and repaved until the runway, itself, needs rebuilding, again.
On another topic, we were handed a really charming bit of news. A year ago, one of our friends – a tailwheel pilot of renown who regularly uses the airport – requested that a windsock be placed near the approach end of the parallel runways because the winds there are usually considerably different than the midfield winds where the only windsock now exist. He was told that his request would be considered.
Considered it was. When I asked about the windsock request, I was told that it would be part of the new Airport Master Plan. I asked when that would be completed. I was told that a contractor had been hired. When asked when the contractor would complete the Master Plan, I was told somewhere between 16 and 24 MONTHS. FOR A WINDSOCK.
I said, “It will take 16 to 24 months for a windsock?”
It was explained that there might be some issues putting a windsock between the runways at the approach end – it might cause a problem with the glide slope or localizer signals.
A canvas windsock on a wooden pole might cause problems with the radio waves transmitted from the glide slope and or localizer antennas. AMAZING.
Before I close, there was one small mention of the 15 year leases that the City is concocting for those of us who have been renting, month to month, from the City. Said leases may be ready for presentation some time before the New Year, I believe. When asked if the terms of the leases would be negotiable, the booming military voice of Deputy Director of Airports, Rodney Probst, barked from the back of the room something that sounded like: “NO. There will be no negotiations. Take it or leave it. It’s a standard city lease.” There were additional comments, but that was general gist of his majesty’s dictate.
And on that happy note, we’ll close. Isn’t it funny that if you drop the “c” from “close” you end up with “LOSE.” I think that airport users were losers, that day.