The secondary runway at Whitehorse’s airport is due for a facelift.
This fall, the surface will be torn up and pulverized into gravel. Next spring, the runway will be repaved.
“It’s been on the target list for quite some time,” said Allan Nixon, assistant deputy minister with Highways and Public Works. “Surfaces wear out, eventually. It’s time to redo it.”
Replacing the runway was identified in the airport’s 20-year plan, released in 2000, and in the most recent five-year capital plan.
The second runway is used mostly as a backup, and mostly by private planes and small aircraft, said Nixon.
“It’s a big help for us, when our crews are out on the main runway, crack sealing or doing something. If there’s a small plane that has to land, the tower can direct them to the secondary runway, and then we don’t have to get off the main runway.”
The work is being done in the fall and spring to avoid the summer months, when traffic is heaviest, he said.
Planes will still be able to land on the runway after it has been torn up. “The majority of air strips in the Yukon are gravel,” said Nixon. “It’ll still be usable.”
There are also plans in the works to extend the second runway, he said.
But that will require moving the instrument landing system, the equipment that allows planes to land in the dark. That work won’t be done for a couple years, said Nixon.
That will be done so that there’s a little more space for takeoffs and landings on the backup runway, he said.
“We’ve got the room there at the airport, we figure we may as well use it and maximize the amount of usable space that we have on the secondary runway.”