Design work on expanding the Fond-du-Lac runway is expected to be complete within the next few months.
Highways Minister David Marit told the Legislative Assembly Wednesday that the department is anticipating submitting a funding application to the federal government by November.
Marit says the project will involve installing a new lighting system, repaving the runway, apron, and taxiway and expanding the runway.
“The biggest reason (for the expansion) is to allow for bigger aircraft to land in Fond-du-Lac and to bring in more supplies and reduce the cost to the community,” Marit said.
Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger is pleased the project is proceeding, but expresses subdued optimism until the project is completed.
“Engineering and the study first and a commitment of money, once the community accepts that and we see the project completed, then we’ll celebrate,” said Belanger. “We’re pleased to see this moving in the right direction. But following the engineering, we have to have some funding commitment. We have to make sure the community is happy and that leadership is accepting of what the proposals are.”
Marit explains that the project was not reactionary to the plane crash there in December, saying the expansion was being contemplated before that.
He says the government has not prepared a cost estimate of the upgrades, adding a similar project was completed in Moose Jaw for approximately $3 million. Marit concedes that the Fond-du-Lac improvements could be much higher, given increased transportation costs. If the project is not eligible for federal assistance.
Marit is confident that the province can fully fund it, yet it make take a few years. A timeline on when construction could start has yet to be determined.
(PHOTO: Fond-du-Lac. Photo courtesy of earmp.com)