Rock Blasting at CHO Causing Disturbance, Damage for Homeowners - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Rock Blasting at CHO Causing Disturbance, Damage for Homeowners

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Albemarle County homeowners are "blasting" the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport over its runway construction project. They say the deep rock blasting has caused significant damage to their homes. Now, they are demanding the airport to put a stop to it immediately.

Twenty-six homeowners in the Walnut Hill neighborhood have sent a letter to the airport asking for the blasting to end. In it, they claim the airport authority failed to give proper notice on the blasting impact.   

About 16 of the total 64 homes in Walnut Hill have sustained cracks in the walls, cracks in the foundation, and some are even having septic problems, which they attribute to the blasting.    

Rit Venerus is the chairman of the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport Commission and also lives in Walnut Hill. He says many neighbors feel the project was misleading.

"The only communication - official communication - from the airport came last August and that was the letter where it talked about that there may be some noise basically, but there's no talk about any damages and there's been no communication from the airport since," said Venerus.  

Neighbors are also concerned about the blasting company - Maine Drilling and Blasting -  who they say has refused to process claims at this time.

To see CHO's statement, read below.

Charlottesville Albemarle Airport
Press Release

CHO is in the final phase of the runway extension project that began in 2009. This project, that extended the 6000' runway to its current 6800', has allowed the airport to remain an economic engine to Central Virginia with approximately $128 million of annual economic impact. CHO's airport operations also support over 1200 local jobs.

While the runway extension portion of the project has been completed and is operational, the runway safety area and adjoining taxiways are still under construction. The excavation and movement of 2.2 million cubic yards of material needed for the entire project is estimated to be about 81% complete. The remaining material to be extracted includes approximately 118,000 yards of rock material and 300,000 yards of dirt. This remaining material will primarily be used for the completion of the runway safety area as required by the FAA.

The entire project, estimated to be around $45 million, has been and will remain in compliance with the original design specifications as approved by the FAA and the Virginia Department of Aviation. The prime contractor, Sargent Corporation, and their blasting subcontractor, Maine Drilling & Blasting, involved in the extraction of fill material have complied with all required state and local level regulations. The airport staff and its engineers continue to monitor all of the contractor's activities to ensure that they remain in compliance. It is anticipated that the primary excavation activity associated with the construction of the runway safety area will be completed by July, 2013, but there will be limited excavation activity until the project is finalized in 2014. 

The airport values and respects its relationships with all of its neighbors that it has developed since 1955 when commercial air service began. Over the last several months we have been notified of concerns of some of the residents in the Walnut Hills community. These residences have been advised of the construction project, and those with concerns of property damage have been encouraged to file claims in accordance with the contractor's procedures. We will continue to monitor this issue to ensure that our neighbor's concerns are heard and addressed.

All additional communication from the airport regarding this subject will be by press release or in written response from individual inquiries until further notice.

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