For at least the next decade-and-a-half, it’ll be a smoother landing for passengers arriving at the Portland International Jetport.
On Friday evening, the jetport completed its $13.7 million effort to resurface its main runway and overhaul other infrastructure like the runway’s lighting.
"We’re just excited to be back at 100% operation," said Zachary Sundquist, the assistant airport director.
Sundquist explained that the conclusion of construction happened a few days early and means an end to flight delays, diversions and cancellations related to planes being unable to land either because an intersection between the main runway and secondary runway was closed due to project work, or weather.
The airport's other runway does not have as sophisticated an instrument system as the main runway, restricting planes from landing in certain adverse visibility conditions.
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"There were a couple days where flights ended up diverting to other cities and either bussing passengers home or waiting in those cities until the weather cleared," said Sundquist.
Nancy Franklin, a jetport passenger from Seagrove Beach, Florida, told NECN/NBC 10 Boston on Wednesday that she was excited to hear the work had been finished, "because we came through here five days ago from Atlanta, the runway was closed, they had to reroute us to Boston and we sat in Boston for hours while our family was waiting here."
Sundquist said the timing of the conclusion of the project, which was paid for from a government fund generated with federal taxes on airline tickets, coincides with the beginning of Maine’s peak summer tourism season, with passenger levels already returning to numbers last seen in busy 2019.
"It’s a sense of relief that you’ve completed this really big 20-year project in 53-and-a-half days but then it’s kind of that reality of we’re right into our peak summer schedule," he said, adding that, "as much as we want to celebrate the runway, it’s time to focus on moving passengers and airplanes where they need to go."
Sundquist expects the runway will be used for at least 15 years until another resurfacing will have to be completed to continue safe operations.