SANTA ROSA -- The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a $22.7 million contract with Berkeley-based O.C. Jones & Sons for a federally mandated expansion of runways and other facilities at the Charles M. Schulz--Sonoma County Airport.

[caption id="attachment_61409" align="alignright" width="300"] Aerial view of Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (image credit: The Press Democrat)[/caption]

Though the lowest of six received, the bid still was 22.4 percent higher than estimated, primarily due to potential risk associated with environmental constraints at the site and the need to work around current operations of the airport's commercial carrier, Horizon Airlines, according to a staff report for the board meeting Tuesday.

The award is contingent on the expected receipt of a $42.7 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, part of funding allocated to help airports meet the new mandated requirements.

Three local subcontractors were among the 13 subcontractors selected for the project: Cotati's Neary Landscape Inc., Healdsburg's Terracon Pipeline Inc. and Santa Rosa's Devincenzi Concrete Construction.

The county is responsible for matching 10 percent of the project cost, which will be paid for by a $5 million loan from the California Department of Transportation. Total cost for the project is estimated to be more than $53 million.

While safety concerns have driven the new national requirements, airport officials have noted that the longer runways could allow for room for larger aircraft to take off and land while carrying more passengers and fuel.

The award involves two of four phases of construction, planned for completion during the 2013 construction season. New lighting and other electrical systems will be installed, along with a new taxiway. Expected for completion in 2014 is the construction of a new safety area, along with the runway extensions.

Work was originally expected for completion in November, but new environmental mitigation required for the project was part of the delay. Those measures added $10 million to the original project cost.