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Seward Airport Improvement Project

Project Purpose

The purpose of this project is to make improvements to the airport that will substantially reduce the damage the airport is experiencing from recurrent flooding and to correct airport deficiencies that may exist based on the airport’s forecasted function and FAA design standards. Currently, the runway lighting is old and needs replacement. Much of the pavement needs rehabilitation or replacement. Testing has recently revealed a weakened embankment under the pavement, necessitating a restriction of allowable aircraft weights to those under 12,500 pounds. Improvement of aging and deteriorating airport facilities is another major goal of this project.

The project team started this project by reviewing the recommendations of the 2008 Airport Master Plan (AMP). However, a complication has arisen that was not foreseen in the master planning effort. The most recent revision of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood map (FIRM) has now established a regulatory floodway across the main runway of the airport. By federal regulation, allowable construction is extremely limited in a regulatory floodway. DOT&PF has initiated a hydrologic study to help identify and evaluate what feasible alternatives may still be available.

Additionally, the river delta adjacent to the airport has been rising relative to airport elevations, increasing the frequency and severity of overtopping floods. The main runway is now too low and in the direct path of the river, which has been repeatedly damaging it during high water events. Overtopping events were initially limited to the fall but have recently been occurring June through November, making maintaining the runway increasingly difficult. In response to multiple flood events during of the summer of 2013, DOT&PF constructed an emergency dike that is providing some temporary relief.

As a result of these changes, the project team is taking another look at the master planning effort to re-evaluate existing alternatives and identify new ones. We are looking for a solution for the airport that will best meet the aviation needs of the community as well as allow cost effective maintenance of facilities within the dynamic floodplain environment. In pursuit of that goal, we are actively seeking input from the community to help us identify what aircraft and aviation based services need to use the Seward Airport, now and into the future, as well as any local conditions (winds, weather, environmental concerns, etc.) that need to be addressed.

The proposed project will most likely include the following activities:

  • Runway/taxiway improvements
  • Pavement rehabilitation or reconstruction
  • Installation of new airport lighting and an electrical enclosure building
  • New navigational aids
  • Additional fencing and erosion control/armor

Click here for photos depicting flooding problems and other existing conditions.