Everybody talks about the weather, Mark Twain once famously commented, but no one does anything about it.
Well, you could probably say the same for the construction industry in Rim Country lately.
But never fear: Payson’s about to get a two-for — do something about the weather and the construction industry at the same time.
Well, at any rate: They’ll take a $171,000 stab at it.
That’s the low-bid award for a project to replace the faltering, 15-year-old automated weather station at the Payson Airport.
The town council on Thursday approved the low-bid contract submitted by Pavex Corp, which came in a full $50,000 below the engineering estimates, another in a string of bids far below estimate as the downturn lingers among contractors.
Three other firms submitted higher bids, with J. Schouten Construction’s $229,000 coming in a full one-third higher than the winning bid. The Federal Aviation Administration will provide 90 percent of the cost of the system, with the Arizona Department of Transportation providing about 5 percent and Payson the balance.
The automated system takes readings on temperature, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, dew point, visibility, sky conditions, cloud levels, lightning strikes and other conditions that could affect pilots.
The sophisticated modern system uses lasers, ultrasonic wind sensors, infrared beams to measure snow and rain and sensors that can record lightning strikes anywhere within 10 miles.
The system automatically records conditions about once every 20 minutes, then feeds the data into a national system that provides pilots real-time updates on weather conditions along their line of flight.
The replacement of the weather station mostly with federal money moves the airport that one small step closer to the master plan, a bundle of improvements intended to accommodate a projected doubling of takeoffs and landings in the next 20 years.