Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport officials are looking at the possibility of extending the length of the new runway at the airport to accommodate regional jets.
But so far, no decisions have been made.
"It's just an idea that's been discussed," said Airport Manager Steve Sievek. "It definitely hasn't been approved, and we haven't even approved starting the process" to study an extension.
Brainerd and Crow Wing County have approved bonding for $2.5 million of the $15 million airport runway expansion project, with the remaining $12.5 million to be paid with state and federal dollars.
The new runway will be the same size -- 6,500 feet long -- as the current main runway, and would become the primary runway because of its direction into the prevailing winds.
Joel Dresel, project manager with Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., the engineering firm designing the runway, said discussion about lengthening the new runway began because Mesaba Northwest Airlink, the airport's only regular commercial carrier, is considering a switch from Saab turboprop airplanes to regional jets.
To accommodate a regional jet, Sievek said the new 6,500-foot runway would have to be expanded anywhere from 300 feet to 600 feet, depending upon what type of jets are used.
The discussion has been at least to take a look at how much runway could be built on the property at this location, said Sievek. "It appears we could probably do about 7,200 feet. But again, we haven't done anything yet."
Adding 700 feet of runway could possibly cost about $1.5 million, Sievek figured.
Dresel said the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission has made no decision on increasing the length of the new runway, and plans are to go ahead with the 6,500-foot runway.
"We're going to build what was planned," said Dresel.
The new runway is expected to improve all-weather wind coverage at the airport to 99 percent. Construction is expected to begin this year with completion in 2004.
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