Crews are milling and overlaying approximately 6 in. of asphalt on the main runway, using 3D modeling to create the peak in the center of the runway, as well as laying 3 in. of asphalt on the 25 ft. on either side of the main runway.
(U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)
A $43.6 million project to rehabilitate the runway at Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah will correct design issues, upgrade the electrical system, widen shoulders and add new signage. Some of the work is repair, while others are complete reconstruction, said Paul Waite, project officer of the 75th Civil Engineer Group.
"The last time we did rehabilitation, we just did an overlay of the asphalt on the main portion," Waite said. "In doing this project we really wanted to correct any wrongs, anything that doesn't meet Unified Facilities Criteria [UFCs], which are the Department of Defense design standard. It also relates to FAA design standards. The runway's degrading asphalt was dramatically increasing debris, which has the potential to cause serious damage if sucked into an aircraft engine."
The runway was originally built around the WWII era and most recently repaired in 2005. The components not in compliance include 1,000-ft. overruns at each end of the 13,500-ft. runway. The overruns are not part of the runway, but are paved surfaces used only in emergencies when an aircraft needs an additional 1,000 ft. to safely land.
"The overruns were sloped too steeply," Waite said. "We wanted to correct those. Another thing we wanted to do was widen the shoulders from 20 to 25 feet. In order to do that we had to reconstruct the entire shoulders. We have a lot of electrical issues because the system is extremely old."
With the exception of the north end of the runway, all of the lights will be replaced, as well as the medium and high-voltage conduits along the runway. Crews are milling and overlaying approximately 6 in. of asphalt on the main runway, using 3D modeling to create the peak in the center of the runway, as well as laying 3 in. of asphalt on the 25 ft. on either side of the main runway.
The project is planned to be completed in five phases. Under the current phase one at the north end of the runway, the landing threshold has been moved, marked with a painted line to signal to pilots where they can land. The planes fly over the construction area and land beyond it.
The work involves five semi-sized dump trucks, rollers, excavators and concrete saws to demolish the concrete that needs to be replaced.
Phase two, which involves work on the mid-section of the runway, will require the closing of the runway. It will reopen again for phase three at the south end with a displaced threshold. Phase four involves the shoulder work and phase five grooving work.
"The whole runway has to be grooved for friction," Waite said. "On the current runway the asphalt is not grooved, but has a friction surface which is rougher. The new asphalt will not have friction on it. The grooves will add that so airplanes can have better stopping power."
The Air Force Base is home to the 75th Air Base Wing, the 388th Fighter Wing and the 419th Fighter Wing, which fly F35s. It also is home to the Air Logistics Complex, one of only three in the entire Air Force.
"Their Air Logistics Complex does depot-level maintenance," Waite said. "There is maintenance on airplanes, like F35s, but for different aircraft once it reaches a certain number of flight hours or is having issues, the aircraft is sent to depot. So, we have other aircraft using the runway coming from all over the world for this maintenance to be done. Those planes are also using our runway. We also have cargo missions coming and going and transient aircraft. The primary reason for this project is to renew aging infrastructure and improve pilot safety."
The bulk of the project is set to be completed by the end of October.