March 15, 2011 - With spring flooding of the Mississippi
The airport has three runways and serves aircraft operated by corporations in the local area, a flight training school and the Minnesota Army National Guard aviation unit, as well as transient general aviation aircraft.
The airport is home to an installation of the Minnesota
Army National Guard. The
local debate has ensued over plans to build a flood wall around
the airport. Three times in the last thirteen years the airport
has been flooded due to its proximity to the
In 2009, a
removable flood wall was installed that is only erected when
flooding is imminent, leaving the views of the river intact for
the rest of the year. Steel plates are embedded in the concrete
on the river side of the runways. The flood wall is composed of
steel posts that anchor to the embedded plates and aluminum
planks that are stacked between the posts to form a flood
barrier. These are then removed and stored when the flood event
the fourth time the floodwall has been deployed at the airport,
having been erected once in 2009 and twice in 2010. The 9,532?
dike includes 4,563? of permanently installed sheet pile wall,
3,595? of temporary, deployable wall and 1,374? of earthen
levee. MAC staff can deploy temporary sections of the wall in
about a week.
developing the floodwall in 2009, flooding sometimes caused
hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage and expense and
closed St. Paul Downtown Airport for weeks at a time,? said MAC
Executive Director Jeff Hamiel. ?The floodwall is designed to
protect the airport against a hundred-year flood, safeguarding
infrastructure and minimizing operational impacts.?
Portions of the
wall along Bayfield Street and those crossing the airport?s two shortest
runways, 13-31 and 9-27, will be erected first, leaving the longest,
primary runway, 14-32, unaffected as long as possible. As the water
rises, the MAC will close storm sewer gates to prevent river water from
backing up onto the airport, and pumps will be activated to drain water
that does collect there.
If necessary, MAC also will install the deployable wall crossing the far southeastern end of 14-32, sealing off the airfield from the river. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Runway 14-32 will remain operational with the wall in place, but the landing threshold will be displaced, shortening the operational portion of runway pavement from 6,491? to 5,341?.
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