The F-35 Ramp and Security Upgrade, Main Base Runway, Phase 4 - Edwards Air Force Base, a $10.5 Million Design-Build project - completed replacement of the Runway Wings and Keel Section and constructed a new parking ramp for eight of the much anticipated F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. Rarely used by the Department of Defense for smaller projects, it was paramount to the project team that they prove the value of design-build delivery from a cost, quality and speed of delivery standpoint.
Schedule & Complexity
The project scope included removal and replacement of 32,540 sy of 12.5" and 20.5" PCC over 8" rigid base on the runway, with 21,230 sy of 12.5" PCC and 5,780 sy of 6" PCC shoulders over 8" rigid base for the ramp, a redesign of traditional asphalt shoulders. Other work included airfield electrical, structure adjustments, high security fencing, tie downs, monitoring well adjustments, blast deflector installation, observation tower demolition and miscellaneous structural removals.
Awarded in July 2009, design began immediately; but aircraft testing and the Space Shuttle schedule dictated a January 2010 construction start. Further delayed by unusual rainfall and the addition of a hydrant and piping system, schedule setbacks were averted by performing the F-35 ramp and Runway work concurrently.
Paramount to project success was the safe coordination of construction activities with airfield operations. Flight operations were moved from the Main RW to the parallel Inside RW, requiring relocation of the BAK-12 barrier system, airfield lighting and tower lighting control. Supervisors were in direct contact with Edwards Ground, while personnel on-site maintained constant awareness of aircraft movements. The haul route crossed a live taxiway, where a TCS communicated with Edwards Ground to direct flaggers and haul units. Weekly meetings updated stakeholders on the work progress and upcoming schedule, while monthly Base Commander briefings assured awareness of potential concerns and addressed questions.
A LEED Silver rating was achieved, with required points exceeded by using local materials for paving embeds, using recycled and on-site materials, and project design. Susceptible to the slightest disturbance, the sensitive desert environment would take years to recover. Accordingly, all employees underwent environmental training including identification of local sensitive biological components. Completed ahead of schedule with zero accidents, the project received the top mark in all 32 categories on which the Owner evaluates Contractors.
Strong coordination with base operations, exemplary safety and environmental performance, high quality, and delivery ahead of schedule resulted in a project that not only stands out as a success for the project team, but also EAFB, COE, USAF and DOD. This project also demonstrated the feasibility of taking the design-build delivery system down to a project this size and the value that a design-build project can deliver.