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Preparing for runway reconstruction: Cottonwood Airport ready to handle diverted flight traffic

COTTONWOOD — Contingency plans are in place at the Cottonwood Airport, ready to handle increases in diverted traffic and usage if and when the runway at Grangeville undergoes an $8 million federal reconstruction project.

“We’ve been working on this for quite a while,” said Cottonwood Mayor Denis Duman, who also serves as airport manager.

Plans are tentative on final FAA funding approval for Idaho County Airport project, believed to be announced sometime in April; the project would begin in July. As it stands, accommodation is being made for relocation of Forest Service smokejumpers for the coming summer fire season, which the Cottonwood facility has done in the past, he said, such as when the county airport underwent a seal coating project. Cottonwood will also be available for diversion of UPS’s next-day air deliveries, and additional tie-down areas are also planned to handle more aircraft as is needed.

LifeFlight plans to divert its fixed-wing aircraft traffic into the facility, “but these are already coming here so that will not be a big deal,” Duman said.

During the project, avgas is planned to be available at Cottonwood, as well as jet-A fuel brought over by the county for the Forest Service.

For those pilots with aircraft at the county airport who want to relocate at Cottonwood, Duman asks they contact city hall or himself as soon as possible: “We’ll need to know how many aircraft we’ll have to accommodate.”

Any expected infrastructure improvements and costs associated with projected use increases are expected to be minimal, according to Duman.

“We’re a public use airport, but our policy is if we dedicate an area of the airport for a specific use and incur a cost for the city, that cost gets passed on,” he said.

Constructed in the 1920s, the Cottonwood Airport has a 3,400-foot-long, 50-foot-wide lighted runway within a completely fenced perimeter.


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