The multi-million dollar runway improvement at the Ravalli County Airport in Hamilton will cause a temporary airport closure this summer. S and K Construction has been intensifying work on the 1,000 foot north extension of the new landing strip, which requires eliminating a portion of a hillside.

The current runway was too close to the taxiway of the airport east of Hamilton, according to the latest Federal Aviation Administration rules. County Commissioner Jeff Burrows said the new runway will be longer and will be shifted to the east.

"From where the runway currently sits, there will be shift to the east and a north shift on the runway. It's about a thousand feet to the north and about 400 feet to the east." The current strip is 4,200 feet long and with the north extension, the new runway will be 5,200 feet long. That extension is welcomed by the Bitterroot National Forest, who already use the airport for smaller firefighting aircraft and helicopters.

The airport runway funding comes from the FAA and federal aircraft fuel taxes. The construction was delayed while final property acquisitions were made last year. But construction is expected to be completed this summer, Burrows said. "We're expecting the project to be over by the middle or end of August."

And there will be a temporary closure of the Hamilton runway within the next few months. "We're not exactly sure how long it will be, but we're expecting possibly a three-month airport closure while they do work out there on the runway," he said. "It'll probably be that April-May-June time frame."

The airport is part of the Ravalli County Targeted Economic Development District, created by the Ravalli County Economic Development Authority, Ravalli County and the City of Hamilton, with proposals to possibly extend the city sewer to the property.

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Reducing the hillside north of the Hamilton airport. (KLYQ photo, Townsquare Media)

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