News

Outlying Field to close for repairs

The air will get a lot quieter around Coupeville for the next nine months, as Whidbey Naval Air Station announced this week that Outlying Field will be closed for repairs in two lengthy periods between Oct. 13 and June 2004.

The field is regularly used by the Navy’s EA-6B Prowlers for touch-and-go carrier landing practice.

Air station Operations Officer Cmdr. Dan Brown said the project has been on the books for a long time and the base was finally able to get funding for it.

“We’ve been needing this for quite some time,” he said.

P&L General Contractors of Oak Harbor has been awarded a $2.5 million contract to lay asphalt and improve lighting, with work finishing in January. The Prowlers will use the field in February and March, then it will close again for concrete runway work from April to June of 2004.

Crews will first replace the asphalt on an access road adjacent to the runway, which is used by emergency vehicles.

“This will reduce the wear and tear on the crash and rescue vehicles, which have been driving over potholes for years,” Brown said.

Work will begin on this first phase Oct. 13.

Residents near both Ault Field and Outlying Field lost sleep this summer when Prowler activity seemed to both more frequent and noisier.

Brown said that won’t happen this time.

During the repair work training flights will be moved to Ault Field, but it shouldn’t significantly increase the air traffic in the area. The work is scheduled over two blocks of time when there is a less than average operating tempo.

Despite the delay in doing such an extensive repair project, Brown said there have been no problems with the operations of the runway.

“We have repaired it piecemeal as we found faults,” he said.

In the second phase, starting in April when the weather improves, sections of the 15-inch thick concrete runway will be removed and replaced. That work will take roughly until June, Brown said, but the completion date is flexible.

P&L Construction is no stranger to runway repairs. Ryan Wallin, a project manager, said they have done quite a bit of work for NAS Whidbey, including work at Ault Field and Outlying Field. In the past they have done yearly maintenance and repair jobs at Outlying Field, but nothing of this scope.

“We’ll be going quite a bit further this time,” he said.

Brown said the field won’t be closed entirely. It will be used for helicopter and parachute training.

You can reach News-Times reporter Marcie Miller at mmiller@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611

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