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Airport sign with arrowSo, what’s Happening with the Bishop Airport During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Sierra Wave has been wondering the same thing that many of our listeners and readers might be wondering: Is this coronavirus pandemic slowing down the progress towards to provide passenger air service at the Bishop Airport by November 2020?

The short answer is “no” according to Inyo County Public Works Engineering Assistant, Ashley Helms, who is tasked with the effort and keeping everything moving on track as planned. The coronavirus has not affected the project and so far, nothing has changed from the original goal of having the airport start flying people in and out of the airport on United Airlines in the late fall.

Taxiway and runway rehabilitation are on schedule if the weather continues to warm up and the asphalt company can start manufacturing the asphalt needed to make the repairs. “Cold weather is not hot asphalt concrete’s friend,” said Helms.

Ideally, the ambient air temperature should ideally be around 70°F when laying asphalt concrete, and the concrete itself should be between 248⁰F to 275°F to be compacted properly, which is why it is important to have an asphalt plants close by during construction.

Asphalt, also known as bitumen, is a sticky, black, and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum, the primary use for which is used in construction of roads…and airport runways where it is used as the glue or binder mixed with other materials called ‘aggregate’ to create asphalt concrete. An advantage of asphalt is that it is easier to remove and repair than regular concrete.

Hot mixed asphalt is manufactured at temperatures between 270°F and 325°F, which is why it is imperative that the plant where it is made is close to the project. Depending on the environmental conditions and the distance from the hot mix plant to the project, hot mix asphalt can lose between 5°F and 25°F.

Subject to funding, there will be more space added to the existing terminal building, and down the road, there will be a dedicated passenger terminal as well in the airport’s future. But first thing residents want to see is for the airport up and running with commercial passenger air service.