Construction at Princeton Airport

Out at the Princeton Airport, construction has begun on the runway. The project started Monday, August 7th and is expected to be completed sometime in November. The runway improvements are just part of the whole project. (Photo by Kaileigh Deacon)

By Kaileigh Deacon

 

Tucked out past the cemetery off West Street in Princeton is the Princeton Airport. The small airport, constructed in the 1940s, is a little-known resource for Princeton and all of the surrounding communities. 

When it was constructed in the 1940s during World War II, the airport was used to house overflow bombers that couldn’t go to Bangor before they headed over to Europe. Since then, the use of the airport has changed some and now has a few other purposes. One service the airport offers is a place for the Lifeflight planes to land.

When the weather is too bad for the Lifeflight helicopter to fly, the airport in Princeton provides a place for the more sturdy planes to land and patients to get the help they need. In addition to this important use, the small airport also offers a place for people with small planes to fly from and house their planes. The airport also brings in tourists in their small planes looking to come to Maine for outdoor activities like hunting, fishing and camping. The airport can see anywhere from 40-50 small panes and jets land on its runway in a month. 

With all of its many uses, the airport is in need of some work to make it safer and more accessible to those that use it. The biggest issue is the runway that is still in use, the 1533. If you are at one end of the runway you can’t see the other end due to a crest in it. One of the goals of the current project is to fix this. The project would bring the south end of the runway up about 17ft to make a more level runway. A lot of trees would be cut in order to make it more visible. 

The total cost of the project is $5.7 million which includes complete reconstruction of the 4000 ft. runway as well as the addition of a new drainage system, a new beacon, a new electrical vault and a new PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicator) system. The majority of the cost of the project will be covered by an FAA grant with the airport only having to come up with a local share. Most of this local share will come from an ‘in kind’ payment, where the airport can use resources and materials they have on hand, such as gravel and reused fill from the runway, and embankment.

Even with the cost of the project, none of the towns including Princeton will have to pay anything for the project. Brad Richard of the Airport Authority says that this is thanks in large part to Stantec, the engineers on the project. Stantec helped the Airport Authority find ways to raise their local share through the ‘in kind’ payment saving the airport and the towns from having to spend money. 

The project is still in the early stages but is expected that the runway will be able to reopen on November 15.