Dinwiddie Airport Soars Through $3.5M Upgrade

Fri November 01, 2002 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

Dinwiddie County Airport, situated 25 mi. (40 km) south of Richmond, VA, had been receiving improvements since May of this year. The project, overseen by the Richmond office of Delta Airport Consultants Inc., involved an overlay of Runway 5-23 and construction of a parallel taxiway as well as a rehab of the general aviation apron. New airfield lighting and an upgraded drainage system also were included in the job.

Chris Jefferson, resident project representative, of Delta Airport Consultants, provided liaison between the prime contractor, Burton P. Short and Son Paving Company of Petersburg, VA, and the airport manager, Dave Ploeger. Ploeger is employed by the Dinwiddie Airport and Industrial Authority.

Jefferson’s job consisted of monitoring the project to make sure it is in accordance with the plans and specifications, and he also acted as a field representative.

“I met daily with Lex Cobb [project manager for Short and Son Paving] to see what work he had scheduled,” said Jefferson.

According to Cobb, 26,000 tons (23,587 t) of asphalt was used on the job. The amount of concrete used on the job was significantly less. Approximately 18,000 sq. yds. (15,050 sq m) of cement treated base was used on top of the dirt/sub grade.

Carson, VA-based Phillingane and Son LLC was the utility and site work subcontractor on the airport project. The company had to move approximately 17,000 cu. yds. (13,000 cu m) of dirt, which was stored on the job site from a previous project. Also removed from the site was 48,800 sq. yds. (40,803 sq m) of pavement. In addition, Phillingane upgraded the drainage system from old CMP pipes to new concrete RCP pipes and constructed paved ditches. The company also performed all of the grading at the site.

According to Mark Phillingane, vice president, the company owns all of the equipment it used on the project.

“We used excavators, bulldozers, off-road trucks, motorgraders, and on-highway trucks,” said Phillingane. “Ninety-five percent of our equipment is Caterpillar.”

The airfield lighting subcontractor, Electrotech of Glen Allen, VA, installed new airfield lighting on the taxiway, runway, and threshold. The company also will put in new signage and a Precision Approach Path Indicator.

Another subcontractor, Slurry Pavers Inc., also of Glen Allen, conducted crack repair and milling work. The amount of crack repair proved to be a challenging aspect of the job. There had been approximately 55,000 linear ft. (16,764 m) of crack repair on the existing runways and apron.

Since the parallel taxiway was constructed from scratch, some difficulty resulted when the contractors bulldozed the site. Given that the airport was originally built in the 1940s, they encountered obstacles from unsuitable material in the form of organic soil, trees and stumps.

“It was all unsuitable material that we had to remove,” Cobb said.

Additionally, the unusually dry weather in the region provided a challenge. According to Ploeger, the airport had to keep the dust at a minimum.

“You have to continually water it down to meet the strict compaction guidelines and specifications,” he noted.

All of these challenges were worth the end result, however. The overlay of the main runway will extend the life of it for another 20 years. Construction of the new taxiway allows for a more efficient flow of aircraft traffic around the airport. The new taxiway “also increases safety because the airplanes will no longer have to taxi through aircraft parking areas,” explained Ploeger.

The airport, conveniently located adjacent to Interstate 85 and Route 460, presently features a terminal and five large hangars, suitable for single or multiple corporate jets, and 42 T-hangars. The airport offers quality flight instruction, a ground school, aircraft sales and rentals, and maintenance. Aircraft charters also are available through Central Virginia Aviation.

A new terminal building is presently under construction under a separate contract, which also includes additional parking for aircraft and the construction of access roads.

“We’re hoping that the new terminal and lighting and entry road will generate more traffic,” concluded Ploeger.

Funding for the $3.5-million Dinwiddie County Airport project came from three groups. The FAA provided $3.2 million, which was 90 percent of the cost. The Virginia Department of Aviation funded 8 percent or $294,869, and the Dinwiddie Airport and Industrial Authority paid 2 percent or $73,718. As per Ploeger, that is the usual method of funding FAA sponsored projects in Virginia: 90 percent, 8 percent, and 2 percent.

The taxiway and runway were completed first, while the remainder of the work, including the airfield lighting and paving of the apron, were recently finished on Oct. 15.