The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved the advertisement for bid and subsequent award of a construction contract to rehabilitate the runway at Fallbrook Community Airpark.
The supervisors’ 5-0 vote Wednesday, Jan. 24, authorizes the director of the county’s Department of Purchasing and Contracting to take the necessary actions to advertise the contract for bid and to award the contract. County Airports is a division of the county’s Department of Public Works, and the motion also designated the director of the Department of Public Works as the county officer responsible for administering the construction contract. The action also appropriated $1,672,000 for the project and found the repair of an existing facility to be categorically exempt from California Environmental Quality Act review.
A corporation with a board of directors was formed in 1960 to develop an airport in Fallbrook. The construction of Fallbrook Community Air Park took place in 1964. The airport’s founders used “Air Park” as separate words to promote the community aspect in addition to aviation; the county spells “Airpark” as one word.
On Oct. 28, 1964, Runway 18 at Fallbrook Community Air Park was completed. The county owns the 290-acre airport and approved a lease with Fallbrook Community Air Park Inc. in 1968. The county took back operations of the airport in 1998 after the lease expired.
Approximately 125 fixed-wing aircraft are hangared at Fallbrook Community Airpark. Runway numbers are based on directions, Runway 18 means that the runway approach is due south, or at 180 degrees. Since runway approaches may be made from the south as well as from the north, the runway is now called Runway 18/36. The airport had 29,194 operations, including touch-and-go landings as well as actual flights into and out of the airport, in 2021 and 29,940 operations during 2022. Runway 18/36 is 2,160 feet long and 60 feet wide.
County Airports maintains an Airport Pavement Maintenance Program which inventories pavement conditions and allows for recommendations to rehabilitate that pavement. Runway 18/36 has not been rehabilitated since 2014 and based on inspections, geotechnical data and the expected life cycle of the pavement surfaces, the runway qualifies for a new pavement overlay based on the Federal Aviation Administration’s pavement condition index standards.
The FAA's Airport Improvement Program provides grants which fund up to 90% of qualified airport improvement projects. Although the grants are competitive, the FAA allocates a certain amount for each class of airports in each FAA region. The county’s contributions are provided through the Airport Enterprise Fund which is derived from rent collected from businesses leasing land.
The Runway 18/36 rehabilitation project will involve placement of an asphalt overlay to reinforce the existing runway and improve the pavement condition in compliance with FAA design standards. The runway shoulders and taxiway connectors will all receive a fresh layer of pavement. The finished asphalt will be restriped and will provide airport users with a smooth and durable pavement surface which meets FAA standards.
Past appropriations of $728,000 funded the design and environmental permitting for the Runway 18/36 rehabilitation and also allowed for funding of some of the construction costs. The Airport Improvement Program will fund $1,504,800 of the construction while the Airport Enterprise Fund will be used for the other $167,200 appropriated Jan. 24. The $1,800,000 construction budget includes a 20% contingency to address unforeseen conditions.
The timing of the FAA grant will determine the contract award and project schedule, but the rehabilitation is expected to begin and be complete in late 2024. Between runway rehabilitation projects airport pavement is regularly inspected, small cracks are filled and sealed and any irregularities are spot repaired.
Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected].