Locals and Air Force Base officials ride out to the new runway construction Friday on base. The concrete for landing now reaches a thickness of 22 inches at the ends and the thinest is here at 16 inches. The runway will be two miles long and 300 feet wide. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff Buy this photo.
June 8, 2013 7:49:04 PM
Columbus Air Force Base officials report two thirds of construction on its center runway is done, making it on target and slightly ahead of its projected August 29 completion date. Work on the project began in March.
The $31.29-million construction project is the most extensive overhaul to the two-mile runway since it was built in 1959. Officials reported there was less than 20 percent pavement life left on the runway's asphalt when the reconstruction began.
The 12,000-foot-long, 300-foot-wide runway's 10,000 foot-long asphalt section is being replaced with a 10-inch thick, 200-foot-wide concrete surface. Outside 50-foot-wide runway edges are being replaced with new asphalt. An estimated 64,765 cubic yards of new concrete and 26,148 tons of new asphalt will be used. Officials say concrete is the most cost effective and easiest airfield surface to maintain on a long-term basis.
Pheba-based Babcock Construction was awarded the contract last year as the project's general contractor.
Project manager John Trumm said chief among factors contributing to when the renovation is finished continues to be weather conditions.
"One of the challenges with the project (is) obviously the wet spring that we've had. There's been a lot of rain," Trumm said. "However, we've had some very good weather the past few weeks and we've been able to resolve a lot of issues."
Lt. Col. David Meissen said in the interim, the base's inner and outer runways as well as runways at Golden Triangle Regional Airport are being used for pilot training missions.
"Those inner and outer runways are 100-percent active. Those runways are good for many more years," Meissen said. "Eventually they would be looked at, but this runway right now is good for approximately 50 years and we're going to try to get 50 more years out of a new one."
Meissen said CAFB flies approximately 267 sorties, or dispatches of military units each day, so completion of the center runway will be welcome and used to more evenly distribute those deployments.
"This is a 365-day project. We're executing this with a six-month runway closure. This is very important for us and for the base because our three runways here in Columbus allow us to execute pilot training," Meissen said. "The concrete is going to be fresh, it's going to be good and we're not going to have problems with concrete breaking up. We are just a little bit ahead of schedule right now, weather depending."
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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