Airport board approves $900k canopy rehabilitation project

The Great Falls Airport Authority board voted last week to approve up to $900,000 toward a front canopy rehabilitation project.

The majority of the project would be funded by federal infrastructure funds and $90,000 in local airport match funds.

The canopy covering the front walk is original to the building from 1975. A portion was removed in the center of the building to accommodate a remodel and the membrane of the roof was maintained, but otherwise, little work has been done to update the structure.

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During the airport’s sidewalk replacement project this year, a structural analysis of the canopy found that it was structurally sound but the stormwater conveyance within the structure was broken and water was coming through multiple places rather than being funneled to the appropriate downspouts, according to airport staff.

The existing canopy doesn’t have any exterior lighting under the portion parallel to the building and only one light in the entrance. The project will add lighting, according to airport staff.

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The existing signage systems are failing and one nearly fell off the canopy during a wet snow last winter, becoming wedged between two columns of concrete that kept it from falling onto the sidewalk, according to staff.

The existing roofing system is a multilevel membrane and some levels drain onto lower levels where they enter downspouts, according to staff.

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The existing roof if high maintenance and the entire roof structure is visible to the public from the second floor of the terminal and the membrane and multicolor patches are unattractive, according to staff.

“The structure of the canopy, although functional, is fairly unattractive and outdated,” according to staff.

The project approved by the board during their Oct. 25 meeting will develop a design and make recommendations to address these issues.

The likely direction will be to clad the existing canopy with siding on the upper elements and a sloped metal rood, according to staff, to keep water out of the concrete superstructure and convey it to exterior gutters into the new stormwater pipe.

Staff told the board that the plan is to pour wider bases on the existing columns to add more protection from cars and snow equipment as well as wrap the columns with a heavy gauge of metal panel that would be allowed to rust.

The project will also add lights under the canopy and new signs, according to staff, and the project will extend the life of the canopy for another 30 years.