The United States Congress earmarked a project at Sawyer County Airport to install an instrument landing system (ILS) in 2003. This was an extremely challenging site, that was encumbered by forests, wetlands, and the Namekagon River. Becher Hoppe was called onto the project team during design in 2010, after the project had been mired in environmental evaluations and FAA coordination for years. Becher Hoppe coordinated between project stakeholders to provide a clear path forward, and the project was bid out by the lead design firm in 2013. Becher Hoppe took over as the lead consultant at that time, providing construction engineering for the ILS project that involved relocating Airport Road, installing a parallel taxiway, approach lighting, and the ILS equipment. The 2014 construction project had no shortage of hurdles; high ground water, unstable soils, environmental concerns, and destructive weather. The Becher Hoppe team collaborated with FAA, BOA, Sawyer County Airport, and contractors providing innovative solutions to keep the project on track. The ILS Improvements project was completed in 2015.
As the airport worked towards commissioning the ILS equipment through FAA, FAA determined that the terrain conditions in the wetland north of Runway 21 needed to be improved in order to provide a consistent ground reflecting plane for the glide slope (GS) signal. BH had expressed this as a concern during design, but regulatory agencies decided not to modify the terrain in this area during the initial GS installation with hopes that the GS would perform satisfactorily without ground plane wetland taking. After flight check failures, FAA was concerned that modifying the GS ground reflecting plane in order to meet GS grading criteria would not be possible due to high water levels, poor drainage, and poor soils. The FAA considered removing the GS from HYR. Becher Hoppe expeditiously prepared a detailed design for the GS ground plane expansion, which included underdrains, select crushed subbase, fabric, and required over 3 acres of wetland taking. After considerable coordination with FAA technical operations, FAA NAS planning and integration, WisBOA, HYR, DNR, USACE; as well as an environmental assessment re-evaluation prepared by Becher Hoppe, the project was approved. HYR sees a very high volume of corporate jet traffic, and runway closures were required in order to perform construction. Becher Hoppe led extensive coordination efforts between the airport manager and contractor, and not a single flight was lost due to construction. The ILS is now fully operational, and the ground plane expansion area is so smooth and solid that the airport manager drives his golf cart on it.