The reconstruction of Kearney’s primary runway involved almost every aspect of typical airport design and construction, including asphalt milling, subgrade and aggregate base courses, new concrete and asphalt pavement, safety area grading, perforated-pipe subdrains, storm sewer pipe and area inlets, runway and taxiway lights and signs, runway and taxiway marking, and NAVAIDs. The project also involved unique challenges and constraints, requiring creative, adaptable, and responsive solutions.
During the design, Benesch completed a preliminary design phase in which seven different pavement section alternatives were evaluated, ranging from a minimal four-inch mill with new asphalt overlay to complete reconstructions starting from the subgrade up. The new pavement structure options were evaluated not only on initial cost, but also on 20-year life cycle costs accounting for routine maintenance. An additional component to the pavement section analysis was the need to correct the runway profile to meet FAA standards for C-II category aircraft. After analyzing three profile alternatives, and particularly how they would affect the pavement section and the grades at the intersection of the Runways 18/36 and 13/31, two distinct pavement sections were selected: a full-depth reconstruction (concrete surface) for the north 1,900 feet and a concrete “whitetop” over an asphalt debonding layer for the remainder of the runway.
Another component of the design was to realign the north and south end connecting taxiways to be perpendicular to the runway. The original taxiways were connected to the runway at 45-degree angles, making it difficult for pilots to clearly see up and down the runway for approaching or departing aircraft. As part of the design, the pavement fillets and edge lighting layouts were established in accordance with newly developed FAA standards and with direct correspondence and review from FAA.
After the project was successfully bid, and a few months before construction was expected to begin, the airport lost their commercial air service provider. As the Owner and NDOT moved quickly to resolicit and find a new commercial air service for the airport, the decision was made to begin construction as soon as possible, altering the overall construction schedule and phasing plan to target completion by the end of August 2018, about three months sooner than originally planned. Additionally, after a new air service provider was selected, the proposed pavement sections throughout the project had to be redesigned to accommodate the heavier aircraft that would now be operating at the airport.
Pavement milling, removals, and perforated-pipe subdrain (edge drains) installation begin in Fall 2017 and continued through the winter. Construction of new pavement began in March 2018, and quickly accelerated toward completion by the end of August, including almost $7 million of work completed in the last three months. To the meet the shortened schedule and ensure quality construction, frequent and targeted coordination between all parties was essential, especially related to material testing, where simultaneous operations of concrete paving, asphalt paving, subgrade density testing, and more required careful scheduling, documentation, and quality controls from the material testing technicians and laboratory in Benesch’s Lincoln office. Furthermore, the reconstruction of the runway involved relocating and replacing four separate FAA-owned NAVAID facilities via Reimbursable Agreement. This meant that quick decisions about timing and the project schedule had to be coordinated between not only the Owner, Contractor, FAA, NDOT, and Benesch, but also with FAA’s NAVAIDs Engineering Services group, the FAA Resident Engineer on-site, and the local FAA SSC team responsible for maintaining the NAVAIDs after the project.