ST. GEORGE — The St. George Regional Airport will be sporting new snow removal equipment after federal officials approved a $500,000 grant, an addition that will keep the airport in compliance with current federal certifications.
The Federal Aviation Administration will pay 90 percent of the cost of the snow removal equipment, leaving the remaining 10 percent to be paid by the city. Those funds were approved Thursday by the St. George City Council.
At the same time the Council awarded the equipment purchase bid of $497,179 to M-B Companies, Inc., a snow removal equipment manufacturing company located in Chilton, Wisconsin – a decision supported by the FAA.
Every airport that has commercial service must have snow removal equipment on hand, St. George Regional Airport Manager Richard Stehmeier said. The existing equipment consisting of a 1993 Ford F-350 pickup truck with a 12-foot plow attached doesn’t meet federal safety requirements.
The FAA also requires that a runway be cleared within a certain amount of time, and for a facility the size of the St. George Airport it should take an hour to an hour and a half, he said. That is something the current equipment is not able to do.
Despite the lack of snowfall over the last year, Stehmeier said there have been significant weather-related events in previous years that necessitated closing the airport for a time. At least one of those events shut the airport down for over 12 hours, he said.
The new equipment helps the airport maintain its federal certifications and ensures the safety standards necessary to keep the facility open during inclement weather.
Purchasing a snow plow was an option, he said, but the FAA recommended purchasing a snow broom instead, primarily because it could be used all year long to clear debris from the runway and taxiways, in addition to snow removal when needed.
The new equipment is a large truck with an 18-foot brush attachment that is capable of clearing debris or snow at 30 mph as it travels down the runway while throwing snow 30 to 40 feet.
“It’s a pretty amazing piece of equipment,” Stehmeier said.
St. George News Senior Reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this report.
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