A plane takes off from Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton in this Feb. 18, 2011, file photo.

Hancock County has decided to spend $1.7 million on upgrading the lighting at its airport in Trenton.

Brad Madeira, manager of Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport, said county commissioners approved the project Tuesday. The project will result in a new lighting system to illuminate the airport runways, taxiways and apron, replacing a system that was last upgraded in the late 1990s, he said.

A key component of the upgrade will be installing underground conduit for the wiring. The current system, he said, has wiring just buried underground without any additional protection from the elements, which makes it wear out faster and more difficult to maintain.

“Twenty years is about as much as you will get out of it,” Madeira said. “[The new system] is going to be much nicer and more robust than what we had before.”

He said new energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) fixtures will be installed along taxiways and on the apron, but not along the runway because LED lights are not compatible with military night-vision technology. The Federal Aviation Administration requires all runways at public-use airports to be accessible to military aircraft, he said.

Summer is typically the busiest season at the regional airport. Located next to Route 3 in Trenton, the airport has runways that are 5,200-feet and 3,364-feet long.

The projected $1.7 million cost includes approximately $300,000 in design and engineering work and $1.38 million in construction costs, with Biddeford firm Moulison LLC contracted to install the new system. The remaining funds will go toward the purchase of personal protection equipment for the airport’s firefighters and an ADA-compatible passenger boarding ramp Madeira said.

Of that $1.7 million total project estimate, the FAA is expected to fund $1.54 million with Maine Department of Transportation and the county airport each contributing an additional $85,000, according to the airport manager. The county airport is entirely funded by grants or airport revenues, he said, and does not get any money collected through county taxes.

Work is expected to begin after Labor Day and to wrap up “before real winter weather gets here,” Madeira said.

Other scheduled work at the airport that was approved Tuesday by county commissioners include a $25,000 analysis of vegetation that may be encroaching into the airport’s three aircraft approaches, of which the FAA will pay 90 percent, and a $15,000 project to acquire and install a 20-kilowatt generator to keep the terminal building’s systems operating in the event of the power outage.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....