Construction crews were recently put to the test milling and paving a runway at a major airport where hundreds of jet airplanes roared past them each day as they took off and landed just a short distance away on a parallel runway.
The construction crews were rebuilding Runway 9R-27L at the Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, GA.
The reconstruction of the 27-year-old runway at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport was a joint venture between APAC Georgia Inc. (the firm’s Ballenger Paving Division and its Southern Roadbuilders Concrete Paving Division) and C. W. Matthews Construction Company of Marietta, GA.
The $52-million job involved the removal and replacement of the entire concrete portion of Runway 9R-27L This runway is 2,743 meters (9,000 ft.) long and 46 meters (150 ft.) wide. The old concrete slab was 41 centimeters (16 in.) thick. It was to be replaced to a thickness of 46 centimeters (18 in.).
Then, the two asphalt shoulders on either side of the concrete runway — each of them 9.1 meters (30 ft.) wide were to be repaved to bring them up to the new grade. The runway itself would require about 167,000 square meters (200,000 sq. yd.) of Portland cement. The runway’s shoulders would call for about 31,500 metric tons (35,000 tons) of hot-mix asphalt (HMA).
A key part of the contract’s specifications said that the reconstruction of the main runway had to be completed in only seven weeks — 35.5 days, to be exact — or else severe penalties would be incurred.
Bottom line: They did it.
Not only that, but they did it two days ahead of schedule — even though the work was slowed and hampered because of some unseasonable rain on 11 of the 33 days of construction.
According to Atlanta’s Mayor Bill Campbell, “This is a landmark in aviation construction history. We are extremely pleased with the work done on this project.”
The people who worked on the project are more than a little bit impressed, too. Travis Padgett, general superintendent with C. W. Matthews Contracting Company’ said he had never been involved in anything like this project.
“The timeframe was unbelievable,” Padgett said. “If we had had three or four months to do the job, that would be one thing. But 33 days? We just mashed four months of work into 33 days.”
Sources with the airport’s press-relations department said that there were times when more than 550 people were out there, working on the project during any one shift — and more than 1,000 during a 24-hour time period. The job was active 24 hours a day, seven days a week until it was finished.
C. W. Matthews was involved in several aspects of the project, including milling the base material to the proper grade before the new concrete was poured, and paving the asphalt shoulders after the concrete was in.
“The first thing that had to be done,” Padgett said, “was the removal of the existing concrete. It was sawed into slabs about 12.5 feet long and 8.3 feet wide. Each of the slabs was picked up and loaded onto a flatbed trailer so it could be hauled away.
“After the slabs were removed, we had access to a 6-inch layer of cement-treated base. It was our job to either mill it down to grade or fill to bring it up to grade. We did all of the milling with our new Roadtec RX-70B milling machine.
“Then they would come in with a concrete slip-form paver and lay the concrete to the specified 18-inch thickness. When that was finished, we would come back with our paving equipment and repave the shoulders. They were 30 feet wide on either side of the 9,000-foot concrete runway. We paved with a 1.5- to 2-inch lift in most places — although it went deeper in some places, depending on what had happened to the concrete base.”
Although the milling crews used the company’s Roadtec RX-70B milling machine, they had three other machines to use as back-up: another RX-70B that was rented from Roadtec, along with a RX-45 and RX-60B owned by the company. Fortunately, none of the back-up equipment was needed because the new RX-70B worked flawlessly throughout the project.
“We didn’t have any downtime because of equipment problems,” Padgett said. “And that’s pretty remarkable on a job of this site.
“As far as the paving is concerned we had two crews out there. They had three pavers available: one Roadtec RP-230 and two RP-l80s.” Padgett said they also had two Roadtec SB-2,500 Shuttle Buggy material-transfer vehicles working at all times to feed the pavers.
The mix was produced by one of the company’s stationary plants that was located about 27 kilometers (17 mi.) from the airport. “We used quite a few trucks,” Padgett said. “Depending on what we were doing, we should be using somewhere between 14 and 30 trucks.”
Padgett said that everyone involved with the project is proud of the job that was done.
“It was a major project that had a lot of people doing a lot of different jobs,” Padgett said. “When you sit back and look at it, this was really a great piece of work. When you consider all of the planning and scheduling and logistics, it’s pretty amazing.”
Padgett said that special recognition should be paid to the official project managers on the project: Robert McCord, vice president for APAC-Ballenger, and Buddy Jump, vice precedent for C. W. Matthews Contracting.
“Everyone worked together — and we got it done on time.”
For more information, call 800/272-7100.
(The preceding article appears courtesy of Roadtec.)
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