News

Navy project to funnel millions into economy

"A six-month-long taxiway refurbishing project under way at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station will funnel about $7.6 million into the local economy.The reconstruction of the 2,000-foot-long, 75-foot-wide taxiway began March 26 and is slated to be completed, and the taxiway reopened, on Aug. 11, said Lt. j.g. Shane Wells, a resident officer in charge of Naval Air Station construction.The primary contractor on the project is Del-Jen Inc., which has subconcontracted the bulk of the job to two Oak Harbor construction companies, P & L General Contractors Inc. and Krieg Construction Inc., said Ron Wallin, president of P & L.Of the entire project, P & L and Krieg have about 80 percent of the work, Wallin said.A good hunk of it is coming our way, Wallin said. About $3 million will be paid to P & L, and another $3 million to Krieg, Wallin said.It's great for the local economy, Wallin said. P & L has about 15 employees total, with 10 working on the project at the Naval Air Station. In addition to benefitting those 10 families, Wallin said P & L's use of local subcontractors and suppliers supports a multitude of local businesses, providing for even more local families' incomes.Del-Jen, P & L, Krieg and the Navy form one big team, Wallin said.The whole philosophy is a team effort, he said, and it is working out well. Weekly meetings keep open the lines of communication between the Navy and the local contractors, and enable effective schedule planning. Sometimes the base has needs that the contractors have to work around, such as flight schedules, or the homecoming of the VQ-1 aircrew that had been detained in China.The work consists of removing the old taxiway surface, which was actually found to have been a layer of three different taxiways. In the past the refurbishing consisted of building new over old, Wells said.This time it is different. The crews dug up the three layers of taxiway, to a depth of about three feet. The ground will be leveled, and in some instances refilled with new soil, then topped with six inches of gravel and graded. Then the final 15-inch concrete top layer will be added. The drainage is also being checked and replaced as necessary, as well as the edge lights.Once completed, the taxiway will be able to handle any kind of aircraft and will be comparable to those found at major international airports.The taxiway refurbishing is not the only work being performed on the taxiways and runways at the naval air station. Repairs to the pavement are made regularly by local contractors.Said Wells: None of this stuff is really fairly new.You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at csmith@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611 "

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