The U.S. military will step in and replace the crumbling main runway on Southern California’s Catalina Island Airport in a three-month project starting this month. Since 1972, the Catalina Island Conservancy has been the custodian of the airport on the Los Angeles-area destination and has spent approximately $250,000 a year patching holes on its 3,000-foot asphalt runway, but the state Department of Transportation recently demanded a long-term solution to prevent its closure.
In October, after assistance from Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and other state officials, the Department of Defense agreed to replace the runway with concrete as part of its Innovative Readiness Training Program, which matches community needs with military training opportunities. Last month, the U.S. Marines and Navy transported more than 500 tons of equipment and supplies to the island in preparation for the $5 million project, $4 million of which will be covered through fundraising by the Conservancy. The remaining $1 million was assumed to be the costs for labor and equipment rental if the project was performed by an outside commericial contractor.
“The airport is an historic and critical asset for Catalina, and the main runway’s condition had put the airport at risk of closure to the public if we hadn’t found this solution to reduce the construction cost,” said conservancy president and CEO Tony Budrovich. “Our partnership with the Marines and Navy will extend the life of the runway for another 75 to 100 years and help train the troops for deployments to islands and other remote destinations to build or repair airfields and other infrastructure."