The recently completed Runway 01-19 project at Albany International Airport involved a very tight milling and paving schedule, and was done completely at night. Money talks, and the airport made sure that their runway rehabilitation would be completed on time by instituting a $5,000 liquidated damages clause for every 15 minutes of delay in re-opening the runway.
Extensive planning, considering all factors that could cause delays in the project, and keeping to the project schedule was critical for the Albany County Airport Authority and their consultant, Passero Associates as they approached the project in the Fall of 2014 and Summer of 2015.
The 8,500-ft-long Primary Runway, 01-19 welcomes approximately 3,500 passengers a day, so closing it to traffic was not an option and would be a major hit to the Airport’s service. The Runway 01-19 Pavement and Centerline Lighting Rehabilitation project was split into two phases: Phase I (Fall 2014) included the northern portion of the runway. Phase II (Summer 2015) included the southern portion of the runway and the intersection with Runway 10-28.
Phase I consisted of removing in-pavement centerline light fixtures, milling, paving, and re-installing centerline light fixtures in two separate work areas, allowing aircraft to taxiway across the primary Runway 01-19 at all times. All work in this area was completed strictly as night work to allow aircraft to depart on time each and every morning. As a condition of the contract, the contractor was required to have redundant, backup equipment such as milling machines, pavers and rollers on site, in case of equipment malfunction or failure.
For Phase I, paving contractor Rifenburg Construction Inc. had the mix design ready and mobilized the entire team onto the runway, including lighted runway closure markers, light plants, pavers, milling machines, site dump trucks, rollers, and approximately 20 asphalt delivery trucks, all for their milling and paving operations. Each morning they coordinated demobilization and cleanup, and opened the runway prior to the 6:00 am scheduled departure. All centerline lights were removed before milling operations, and re-installed following paving operations.
During Phase II this Spring, the remaining portion of Runway 01-19 (approximately 150’ x 4,600’) and associated centerline lights were rehabilitated. This process included three separate work areas to allow aircraft to taxi across Runway 01-19. All centerline and touchdown zone lights were removed and later re-installed after completion of paving operations.
A typical night’s work between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am consisted of tight coordination between Rifenburg and Albany Airport operations, with nightly Notices to Airman (NOTAMS) being issued by Albany Airport operations. After Airport operations cleared the contractor to enter Runway 01-19 each night, Rifenburg would first close the runway by installing lighted runway closure markers at each end of the Runway. Then Rifenburg would close all surrounding taxiways with lighted barricades and install portable light plants on the specific work area of the runway. Milling machines lined up across the 150’ wide runway and began milling off the top 2-1/2” of material and loading it onto trucks.
After sweeping and cleaning the milled surface, tack coat was applied, and paving operations began behind the milling operations. After paving work, quality assurance cores were taken for density testing of in-place asphalt. Temporary striping and pavement markings were applied to the new surface. Cleanup and demobilization of the runway was completed each morning by 6:00 am.
Pete LaFarr, Superintendent at Rifenburg, said their team worked very hard, together as one, with all of them in sync, operating like a well-oiled machine to get the project done. “We spent a lot of time preparing each and every night, just to make sure we were ready for battle, and when the clock struck 10:00 it was go time.”
The most critical work area was in the intersection of Runways 01-19 and 10-28. The work window in this area, when both airport runways needed to be closed, was very tight and the runway could only be worked on early Sunday mornings from 1:00 am until 6:00 am. When the last scheduled flight arrival was delayed to arrive later than 1:00 am, work was cancelled for that work window. The airport worked closely with the airlines to ensure minimal disruption.
In order to meet the strict deadline, the entire project schedule was strictly monitored and adhered to. Throughout construction, the owner, the consultant team and the contractor held daily progress meetings, crucial to meeting the project goals. Officials said no flights were delayed and no liquidated damages were assessed.