Runway 18L-36R Pavement Rehab


Project Focus

Runway 18L/36R is the primary, and longest, runway at Tulsa International Airport, making it critical that all work be completed prior to the Oklahoma tourist season. The projects overall duration was 239 calendar days, however, the runway portion of the work was to be done and open to traffic in 134 calendar days before June 1st. Work began on January 2. The Tulsa Air National Guard's 138th Fighter Wing also calls the airport home. Sharing the runway with their attack squadron of F-16 Fighting Falcons added to the urgency of timely completion. This project is the third phase of the Runway 18L/36R reconstruction. The project required removal and replacement of the 16" PCCP, including full airfield electrical demolition and replacement, base work, underdrain, asphalt shouldering, existing taxiway demolition, new asphalt access roadway, infield sodding, two aircraft arresting barriers and blast pad reconstruction. The runway was completed 9 days ahead of schedule even after suffering 45 weather days, with industry leading quality, and zero lost time accidents.

Project Details

Schedule & Complexity
Schedule was the most challenging aspect of this project. The contract required the runway portion of the project to be completed in 134 Calendar Days starting January 2nd. Adding to the challenge of re-constructing 7000 feet of runway in 134 was doing it during the winter and spring seasons in Tulsa - 45 days were lost due to weather. To overcome the schedule challenges, the project team used a phased approach with multiple crews meaning that nearly all project activities were being performed simultaneously during the bulk of the construction. This required close coordination and cooperation from all project stakeholders and resulted in opening the RW 9 days ahead of schedule.

Construction & Innovation
After removing the existing pavement section the subgrade soil was found to be unstable due to excessive moisture. The historical method for stabilizing subgrade at the airport was line treatment. The project team collaborated over several stabilization methods but settled on a simple method of utilizing lime mixers to mix and aerate the existing soil then re-compact. This method worked well saving the project $2 million over lime treatment and preserved the all important schedule.

Another primary driving force for the project was installation of the two aircraft arresting barriers. Working closely with the National Guard, all construction was performed on time and to excellent quality standards. This was the only time the ANG's representatives remember experiencing a successful first-time engagement of a new breaking system. They were so delighted they went so far as to post the video on You Tube.

Three aggregate size groups were used to deliver the best optimized gradation possible. The threesize groups were a combined Coarse Agg 467 (2"-#4), an intermediate aggregate (3/8" - #8), and a standard concrete sand (ASTM C33). The blend of aggregates was analyzed utilizing the coarseness - workability box, the percent retained chart, the .45 power curve, and practical experience. The batch plant was delivered and set up early so that several mixtures could be tested for workability and strength.

Because the runway was also used by the military the concrete aggregates were required to meet the USACE requirements for deleterious materials. The deleterious requirements of section 32 13 11 are significantly more stringent than the FAA or ASTM C 33. The selection of aggregate sources and the testing schedule were extremely important factors in the success of the project. Aggregate selection decisions were based on aggregate quality and schedule.

Quality Control
QA/QC for the project was executed at a very high level. It should be noted that testing is only a small part of an effective program. Many hours were spent training and educating the craft workers to monitor and control their work and correct defects "in real time". Testing simply verified that the construction processes were being controlled. Additional tests performed include: unit weight in both the plastic and hardened states, yield, and temperature. Control charts were utilized show the relationships between air content & strength, unit weight and air content, and yield to unit weight. The relationship between these properties are predictable so they can help to identify erroneous tests.

Crews were all required to go through an extensive on-site safety orientation before being allowed into the secured airfield. Weekly "Toolbox" safety meetings were also held, reinforced by item-specific safety meetings held prior to starting all new major items of work to include Activity Hazard Analysis (AHA's). These procedures resulted in zero lost time accidents and helped the project receive an "Accident Prevention Program - Perfect Safety Record" award from the AGC of Oklahoma.

Public Relations
Completion of the project was instrumental in simplifying aircraft movement around Concourse C during winter de-icing operations. Prior to this project, aircraft on the south side of the Concourse had to switch from ground movement communications to the FAA tower and then back from the FAA to ground communications on the North Side of the concourse for staging for de-icing. This project allows movement and communications to stay under Ground Control, which significantly improves and simplifies the aircraft operations and communication.