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NEWS | June 9, 2006

100,000 pounds, 60 days: Base runway project is underway

By Senior Airman Christian Michael 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

For the first time in years, a large portion of the Langley flight line, to include parts of the main runway, Taxiway Alpha, and the East and West Ramps, is being completely replaced with new concrete to provide the best possible wearing surfaces for America’s newest weapon system. 

With the projected replacement of 100,000 tons of runway, the base is on a ramped-up schedule for 19 base improvement projects, including improvements to the taxiway and runway-lighting, relocation of maintenance facilities and the aircraft arresting systems and capping base landfill areas to environmentally safe standards. 

On top of all of these side projects lie the actual runway and parking ramp replacement itself, which is required for optimal flight operations on Langley. 

“Concrete has a life cycle,” said Jim Wampler, 1st Civil Engineer Squadron chief of engineering. “You put down new concrete, and it should last approximately 25 years, and then you have to replace it. Since replacing jet engines damaged as a result of FOD is expensive and detrimental to flying operations, we need for our runways and other key pavements to be in top shape.” 

Second Lt. David Mogge, engineering project manager, said that FOD is a matter of trash and other matter rolling onto the flight line and the flight line coming apart as the concrete surfaces deteriorate. 

“The breakdown of the paved surfaces is the greatest source of FOD,” said Lieutenant Mogge. “It ages, cracks, and as it breaks down, creates the dangers to aircraft intakes.” 

In the past, financial shortfalls have forced runway engineers to use asphalt for runway repair, which breaks down easier and more quickly than concrete. To secure a longer-lasting, FOD-reduced runway, certain sections of the east ramp now covered in asphalt will be replaced entirely with the new concrete. 

Currently, construction crews are breaking up the 1.5-foot-thick runway slabs into 2-by-2 foot blocks and are being hauled off-base by the construction company for environmentally-safe processing centers for use elsewhere. 

Old pavement removed from the eastern half of Taxiway Alpha, however, will not leave the base. 

“There’s a project scheduled for a large new 480th Intelligence Wing facility next year where the horse stables are now located,” said Mr. Wampler. “Because of lower elevations, the chosen site requires lots of fill material to avoid future flooding concerns and to meet design requirements for paved areas and buildings. The plan is to store and then later crush concrete from Taxiway Alpha for these purposes.” 

Using the crushed concrete saves a substantial amount of money for the new facility complex. 

“The money saved from not having to purchase new concrete material or transport it from off base can save approximately $2 million,” said Lieutenant Mogge. “Anything not used will be distributed to various other future projects around base.” 

All of the flight line work, while a major undertaking, will have minimal impact on the base roadways. Construction vehicles, numbering up to 500 a day, will transit material on and off base during the construction period through the Lee Road gate only. Base motorists should see little difference now compared with the Eaglewood Golf Course’s recent redevelopment project, which also required a large number of dump trucks to use the Lee Gate. 

“There will be minimal effect as the contractors and construction vehicles will be using the Lee Road gate, which is only open to them,” said 1st Lt. Anthony Austin, 1st Security Forces Squadron operations officer, “and they won’t be using other Langley gates.” 

Langley members should see little disruption to traffic flow due to all the flight line reconstruction, most of which will be completed by July 29 for the returning fighters and the wing’s continuing mission of air superiority.