Stan Bergstrom, superintendent and project manager of the new, multi-million dollar airport being built four and a half miles north of Monticello, reports that everything is on schedule and going well. Just driving past the site in U. S. Highway 191, very little of the work already completed can be seen from the highway.
Schmidt Construction, Inc. of Cedar City has the contract to move hundreds of thousands of yards of dirt in the first phase of construction. They have 60 calendar days remaining to move dirt off the hills and into the vales.
When complete, the airport will have a 6,000 foot runway, which will be flat and within 1.2 inches of grade. The dirt work for aprons and turnaround areas along with the terminal site are part of the contract.
They will also install thousands of feet of pipe to assure proper drainage when the airport is complete.
There are no grade stakes anywhere. Bergstrom said Schmidt has outfitted all the bulldozers and graders with state of the art GPS equipment, and skilled operators can come within one percent of final grade anywhere on the project, simply by keeping an eye on their on-board equipment.
That saves time and large sums of money over the labor-intensive grade stake methods of the past.
The crews work six 12-hour days per week. Wages on this Federal Project (92 percent of the financing is by the Federal Aviation Administration) must meet or exceed Bacon-Davis minimums.
This means a common laborer makes at least $17.48 per hour, while a bulldozer operator makes $28.82 per hour. Overtime must be paid at the rate of 150 percent of regular wages.
With three employees from Blanding and others from Monticello and Dove Creek, along with the rest of the crew from the Cedar City area staying at the Canyonlands Motel in Monticello, the area economy is receiving a much-needed boost.
Schmidt is also buying millions of gallons of water for compaction and dust control from area residents who own water rights in Spring Creek and Gordon Reservoir.
Bergstrom commented on the beauty of the area and the vibrancy of the San Juan economy. He said heavy construction in the St. George-Cedar City area is about half this year what it has been in recent years.
Schmidt was more than pleased to win the contract for this job enabling them to keep their highly skilled, long-time employees working this summer.
He reports Monticello and the FFA got a “heck of a deal” on this first phase of the airport construction because contractors in Southwestern Utah are hungry. Bids on heavy construction jobs state wide and nationally are far below what they would have been in years past because of the state of the national economy.
Bergstrom added, “Like everyone else, we are just trying to survive this downturn in the economy and stay in business. Monticello and San Juan County are the beneficiaries of having a major construction project ready to go right now.”