Pierce County Thun Field taxiway project begins today

Work is scheduled to start today at Pierce County Airport/Thun Field to realign the taxiway that runs parallel to the runway. According to Pierce County officials, the completed project will provide safety and convenience improvements.

Looker and Associates of Puyallup was awarded the $616,342 contract and expects to complete work by Oct. 15. The runway is expected to stay open for all but a short interval required to match asphalt in the new sections to the existing runway.

Safety is improved by creating more distance between runway and taxiway at the north end of the field and by enlarging the hold area for departing aircraft. Convenience comes from a straight-line taxi and the larger apron for pre-flight maneuvering.

The taxiway is the driveway aircraft use to move to the runway for takeoff. Thun Field has a single parallel taxiway and several shorter sections leading from aircraft hangars and parking to the parallel taxiway.

The hold apron is an area near the take off ends of the runway where pilots check engines and aircraft systems a final time and hold until the runway is clear for take off.

Pierce County purchased a small section of property from Northwest Cascade Inc. to allow the taxiway change to be made. Pilots have had to steer around a corner of the Northwest Cascade property.

The project’s total cost, including design, is $750,000, of which 95 percent is covered by a Federal Aviation Administration grant. The remainder is split between the Washington Department of Transportation Aviation Division and the airport’s operating funds.

The FAA grant includes funds to install an emergency backup electrical system on the field. Thun Field often serves as an area emergency operations base, and the new generator and self-sustaining electrical system will support field lighting, several emergency operational support buildings and the food and beverage operation.