ST. PAUL — With flooding of the Mississippi River at St. Paul predicted due to recent heavy rainfall, work crews from the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) today began deploying temporary sections of floodwall at St. Paul Downtown Airport.
This is the fifth time the floodwall has been deployed at the airport, having been erected once in 2009, twice in 2010, and once in 2011. The 9,532’ dike includes 4,563’ of permanently installed sheet pile wall, 3,595’ of temporary, deployable wall and 1,374’ of earthen levee.
Portions of the wall along Bayfield Street and those crossing the airport’s two shortest runways, 13-31 and 9-27, will be erected first, leaving the longest, primary runway, 14-32, unaffected as long as possible. The MAC has closed all storm sewer gates to prevent river water from backing up onto the airport, and pumps have been activated to drain water that does collect there.
MAC staff will install the deployable wall crossing the far southeastern end of 14-32, sealing off the airfield from the river. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Runway 14-32 will remain operational with the wall in place, but the landing threshold will be displaced, shortening the operational portion of runway pavement from 6,491’ to 5,341’. The two shorter runways already have been temporarily closed. The Federal Aviation Administration will prepare to remove navigational aids located outside the floodwall to protect them from water damage. The wall will remain in place until the danger of flooding has passed.
St. Paul Downtown Airport has the only runway longer than 5,000’ in the MAC reliever airport system. The airport primarily serves corporate aviation needs. In 2013, nearly 69,000 aircraft landings and takeoffs occurred there, making St. Paul Downtown the second busiest airport in the MAC’s six-airport reliever system and the third busiest airport in Minnesota.