Islanders Hear Plans For St Mary’s Airport And Road Works

Attendees at one of yesterday's sessions

Attendees at one of yesterday’s sessions

The company that will resurface the runway at St Mary’s airport, remodel the terminal and tarmac the island’s roads, has outlined their operational plan to islanders.

Lagan Construction are working for the Council to deliver the EU-funded airport projects.

They were showcased in a public meeting at the Old Wesleyan Chapel yesterday. It’s Lagan’s 47th airport scheme.

The Council’s Diana Mompoloki explained that the work has to be undertaken during the busier summer period because there is a tight timeline for the European grant funding and the project has to be completed by the end of the year.

Aggregate will be brought in from France on barges carrying between 2,000 and 4,000 tonne loads. Those vessels will then be unloaded at Porthmellon beach using a landing craft and then the material will be conveyed by road to Parting Carn.

There, a 50 metre square, 13 metre high batching plant will produce the surfacing.

Temporary traffic controls are likely to be installed on the turn off from the main road leading to the project site and accommodation area. This will mean the islands’ will get their first set of traffic lights this summer.

Alan Dooley from the Belfast-based company says they will be upgrading the terminal whilst the airport remains fully operational.

They’ll start remodelling the terminal building section by section and that work will run from Mid-May to September. Public access points will change during construction to allow different areas of the building to be closed off.

When the terminal building project is complete, there’ll be a larger café area featuring floor to ceiling glass, with better views towards town. Baggage collection will be undercover and check in areas will be improved too. There’ll also be an extended car park.

The runway resurfacing will be undertaken at night but all works will be completed by 7am in time for flying on operational days.

Alan says he is very confident this is achievable. They won’t overrun and fights won’t be delayed later in the morning, he says.

The Air Ambulance and Culdrose helicopter will be accommodated during the overnight runway works but no other flights will be able to come in after 7pm and Sunday private aircraft flights may not be possible. Diana Mompoloki explained that some sacrifices had to be made.

The Council has agreed to resurface roads in the town, such as Hugh Street, Church Street and the Strand. Work will be stopped over gig weekend.

Diana says they’re negotiating with Lagan Construction for the best price to resurface roads elsewhere on the island, including Parting Carn, Telegraph, Pungies Lane, Porthcressa and Jerusalem Terrace. The Duchy are funding improvements to the surface of the Garrison road that leads to the Star Castle.

At yesterday’s meeting locals said that they wanted the tennis court tarmaced whilst the contractors were here. Diana said they’re discussing this with the Tennis Club and will try their best to get it done.

At the height of the project in May there’ll be up to 50 staff here.

Lagan Construction says they’re a family-run business and are committed to employing professional and considerate staff. Manager Steve Turner told yesterday’s attendees that many of their team had been with the company for years.

All workers undertake criminal record background checks and the company has a zero-tolerance policy over anti-social behaviour. Staff who transgress will leave the site and the company, whatever their position within the project, says Steve.

The company will also set up a 24-hour hotline, which locals with concerns can ring.

Steve says they’ve done what they can to minimise disruption to locals.

They’ve modified machinery that will be used on the runway works, such as changing the reversing signals, to cut down on noise disturbance.

In the meantime, Allan Dooley says Lagan is keen to hear from any islands’ tradespeople who have a service to offer and they’re hoping to arrange a ‘Meet the Buyer’ day nearer to the start of the airport building work.

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