BEND, OR -- A major infrastructure improvement project is wrapping up at the Bend Airport. The city’s Business Advocate, Ben Hemson, says it was important to create dedicated areas for helicopters and fixed-wing planes, "Bend is a surprisingly busy airport; it’s third in the state in terms of take-off and landings. And that’s because we have a whole lot of helicopters taking off and landing out there, plus we have a fair amount of planes, as well."
The $10 million project was funded by grant money, "The first stage was moving helicopters to what’s called the helicopter operations area, which is a big eight-acre take-off and landing pad." That portion of the project started in 2016, on the east side of the airport. "And now this stage two is reconfiguring the former helicopter operations area and turning that back into, really, just a dedicated plane parking and operations area," Hemson says.
Last week, crews finished converting the former helicopter landing pad to a dedicated plane parking area. "Before these operations were split up, both planes and helicopters were operating in pretty close quarters. So, while this was a dedicated helicopter area that’s being reconfigured right now on the west side of the airport, there were planes in pretty close proximity. So, now you’re going to have a whole lot more room for plane operations; and then over on the east side, we’ll have the helicopters taking off and landing. So, a lot safer, more capacity." He says it also creates more room for future economic development.
While paving is now done, crews will continue striping this week, as well as other finishing touches.
Photo courtesy of Ben Hemson