With the Mississippi River expected to crest above 18 feet this weekend, Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) staff began deploying temporary sections of a floodwall around St. Paul Downtown Airport (STP) this morning, which may result in the airport closing temporarily.
This is the second time this year the wall has been erected, having first been deployed during flood conditions in March.
Because the threat to the airport is expected to pass quickly, the MAC may close the airport entirely when the temporary wall across Runway 14/32 is constructed rather than shorten the runway’s operational length through extensive repainting of runway markings.
“We would need to close the runway two nights this week to repaint the runway markings to shorten the landing threshold when the flood wall is up and then close it again for two nights early next week to change the markings back when the floodwall is removed,” said Gary Schmidt, director of reliever airports for the MAC. “Given the brief nature of the flood threat, it makes more sense in this instance simply to close the airport to flight operations for three or four days until the waters recede to safe levels.”
The primary purpose of the floodwall is to protect airport infrastructure and that of airport tenants. During a more prolonged flood, the wall allows for limited flight operations, as was the case in March.
If water levels drop as expected, the MAC will begin removing temporary sections of the floodwall on Monday, Oct. 4, reopening Runway 14/32, at least, to air traffic.