The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 24 approved a runway improvement and extension project as well as an airport expansion plan for the Sonoma County-Charles Schultz Airport, which is located in the heart of California wine country about 75 miles from San Francisco International Airport.

The $84-million project will allow this small regional airport in Santa Rosa to serve more customers and accommodate more flights each day. Now, Horizon Airlines, a part of Alaska Airlines, operates five flights a day heading to Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and Las Vegas. In June, the Las Vegas flight will be replaced with one to San Diego.

The first stage of the project is a $42-million design, construction and environmental mitigation package comprising runway safety upgrades and extensions 95% funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.

"This project would help us achieve FAA-mandated runway safety requirements," says Jon Stout, manager of the airport. "The work will decouple two of our runways, add an 885-foot extension on the main runway to 6,000 feet and a 200-foot extension to 5,202 feet on another runway. There will be grading work, 200,000 yards of dirt will be moved, and we will install a 650-ft-long, 8-ft-tall culvert." Runway work will start in the summer. Mead and Hunt (No. 171 on ENR's Top 500 Design Firms) signed on as consultant and will design the runway work to be bid out. Stout says the FAA typically does not allow design-build on runway projects.

Once the runway work is finished, the airport has commitments for an additional seven flights a day to more cities by 2015. At that point, the second phase of the plan will begin. A new terminal building, the relocation of the air traffic control tower, a new cargo handling facility and a new fire station are among the $40 million in second-phase construction projects, according to Stout.