Fenced in at New Jerusalem – Nearly a mile and half of chain link is scheduled to go up around New Jerusalem Airport as one of several improvements to the small airport the city owns southeast of town.
Nestled among crops, the runway is a lone strip of asphalt with a windsock nearby. The airport has no hangers, gas pumps or office space. Farm equipment sits on an abandoned runway nearby.
The city of Tracy began the planning process for the project in 2008.
A bidding process was opened by the city on March 22 for the airport, which was built during World War II as an auxiliary landing strip for the Stockton airfield. The fields were used as advanced training bases for multi-engine pilots during that war.
Following the end of the war, the 400-acre New Jerusalem base was given to the city of Tracy under the War Surplus Act, deeding the site as a public use airport.
Plans call for 8,200 feet of 6-foot-high fencing to be erected around the perimeter of the airport.
Director of Parks and Community Services Rod Buchanan said the fence will help with security issues at the rural airport, which is not staffed.
Located off Kasson Road, the airport’s lone 3,530 foot runway saw 4,000 general aviation flights in a one-year period ending in August 2011, according to Federal Aviation Administration reports.
There is also an aerobatic box located northeast of the airport for aerobatic flying practice.
Buchanan said keeping the airport and runway clear for pilots was the primary reason for the fencing.
“It’s a security measure to keep out anybody who is not out there for an aviation purpose,” Buchanan said. “We want to provide a higher level of security than in the past.”
Currently, there is no fencing that separates the airport from the surrounding farmland. A pipe gate across a dirt road is often left unlocked.
Officials with the California Highway Patrol and the San Joaquin County Sheriffs Office said the airport has not been a problem area in the past. According to Deputy Les Garcia, the sheriff’s office only had four calls for service at the airport in the past year.
Buchanan said the fence would deter vandalism, which could include dumping trash or vehicles on the runway.
Also on tap for the airport is maintenance of the runway. The asphalt repair project calls for 200 tons of concrete and 27,000 square yards of slurry seal to go down.
Following that, the runway’s markings, including the centerline, will be repainted. Buchanan said the work is part of the maintenance generated from the normal wear and tear on the runway, saying the last repair work was done about six years ago.
Funding for the fencing and runway repairs will be covered almost entirely by a California Department of Transportation Acquisition and Development Grant, as New Jerusalem Airport does not qualify for federal FAA funding.
Estimated costs for the fence and runway will not be made public until the bids are publicly opened.