Orange airport improvements making progress

  • Afternoon sunlight gleams off the runway at the Orange Municipal Airport. Infrastructure improvements are underway at the airport and the work is expected to be finished in April. Staff File Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 11/13/2020 4:27:18 PM
Modified: 11/13/2020 4:27:09 PM

ORANGE — Infrastructure improvements are underway at the Orange Municipal Airport and the work is expected to be finished in April.

The airport received a nearly $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration for much-needed upgrades. The money is being used to reconstruct one of the airport’s runways, install new airfield lights and signs, paint pavement markings, add grooving to runways and clear 6 acres of trees.

Leonard Bedaw, the airport manager of 29 years, said completed work on Runway 1-19 began two or three weeks ago.

“It has been completely reconstructed — new base, new pavement, grading, seeding and temporary paint markings,” he said, adding that LED runway lighting has been ordered and will arrive in four to six months. At that time, Bedaw, said a contractor will groove the runway to provide channels for water to escape and help with tire friction, install the lights and add permanent markings.

Bedaw also mentioned there is a plan to replace a failed culvert on the south access road. He said all this work will likely result in the airport closing for a day or two.

This initial work closed the airport for a couple of weeks last month, forcing commercial skydiving center Jumptown to briefly operate out of the Turners Falls Municipal Airport. Jumptown General Manager Kevin Drivas said business ran smoothly during that period and the dropzone has returned to Orange.

Bedaw previously said Runway 1-19 was due for maintenance because it was last reconstructed in 1995 and the average lifespan of asphalt is about 20 years.

This project is funded entirely by the federal government, with no state or local match required. Without this grant, Bedaw said, the reconstruction would likely have had to wait another five years because of how long it would have taken to save for the estimated local share of a grant.

The airport’s other runway, 1432, is not slated for any reconstruction, except for where it intersects with 1-19.

As part of this project, roughly 6 acres to the south of the airport were cleared so they would no longer obstruct an aircraft’s approach.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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