PHOTO BY MARC STERLING
                                Bowerman Airport has been closed since early July as contractors update the airport’s drainage system.

PHOTO BY MARC STERLING Bowerman Airport has been closed since early July as contractors update the airport’s drainage system.

Bowerman Airport drainage project delayed by higher than expected water table

A higher-than-expected water table delayed the drainage project at Bowerman Airport in Hoquiam, said Randy Lewis, director of environment and engineering services for the Port of Grays Harbor.

“Once the contractors started digging they discovered the groundwater level was higher than testing previously indicated,” said Lewis.

The runway has long been plagued with drainage issues, leading to standing water on the tarmac. The current nearly $2.2 million construction project includes additional catch basins where needed, the cleaning or replacement of existing outfalls where needed, and the regrading of the areas between and around the runway and taxiway shoulders.

Lewis said the groundwater level will tack about an additional $200,000 to the cost of the project, less than 10 percent of the total project cost. The $200,000 “change order,” up for approval by Port Commissioners at their Tuesday meeting, includes raising the height of the catch basins to address the higher groundwater level.

The change order up for approval includes an additional 20 days for crews from Rognlin’s Inc., the project contractor, to make the necessary adjustments. Still, Lewis said this phase of the project should be completed by the end of the month.

The overall cost of the project and change orders is 90 percent funded by the FAA, 10 percent by the Port, said Lewis. The additional cost created by the higher water table will be allocated based on the same cost-share agreement.

Because of the involvement of the FAA, the project has had additional hoops to jump through. FAA approval of the change orders to deal with the groundwater level was needed to assure that cost share formula covered the additional expenses, said Lewis.

The airport closed July 8 for the drainage work and will reopen after final FAA approval in late September. This is the fourth of five phases of upgrades to the airport, with the final phase slated for 2023, which will include the resurfacing of the airport runway and taxiways and additional catch basins around the 26 airport hangars.