Fort Wayne Int'l Improves Airfield Safety with Perimeter Road Reconstruction

Author: 
Robert Nordstrom
Published in: 
May-June
2011




factsfigures

Project: Perimeter Road Reconstruction

Location: Fort Wayne (IN) Int'l Airport

Cost: $4.8 million

Funding: 95% federal, 3.75% airport, 1.25% state

Engineering & Design: RW Armstrong

General Contractor: Primco

Subcontractors

Quality Acceptance Testing: Resource Int'l

Construction Engineering: Bertsch - Frank & Associates

Excavation: Fleming Excavating

Asphalt: E&B Paving

Erosion Control & Seeding: Harlow Enterprise

Electrical: Michiana Contracting

Security Fencing: Specialties Co.

Pavement Striping: Three Rivers Barricade

Water Quality Structure: Aqua-Swirl(r) by AquaShield

Kudos: Airport authority received an Excellence in Concrete Paving Award for Commercial & Military Airports from the IN Chapter of the American Concrete Pavement Association

Benefit: Removing vehicle traffic from runway

Until late last year, Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA) in Indiana operated under trying circumstances, to say the least. Because the airport's fixed-base operations (FBO) and fuel farm were located on opposite sides of the airfield, fuel trucks regularly crossed an active runway to conduct standard fueling operations.

When fuel was needed, the FBO would call airport operations personnel, who in turn obtained clearance from the air traffic control tower. Airport operations staff would then escort the truck across the runway to the fuel farm and wait for the truck to be loaded before escorting it back across the runway. The procedure was inherently inefficient and labor intensive. Then a minor runway incursion by a fuel truck prompted the FAA to flag it as a safety issue.

"While the fuel truck did not penetrate the runway, it did break the hold short barrier, which qualified as an incursion," explains FWA's director of Operations and Facilities, Scott Hinderman. "We never want to have conflict between an aircraft and a vehicle, and we sure wouldn't want one with a fuel truck. Both we and the FAA wanted to get the trucks off the runway."

Following a safety assessment in 2007, an FAA Runway Safety Action Team recommended reconstruction of a perimeter road to help keep fuel trucks and airfield rescue and firefighting equipment off FWA's runways. Fully 95% of the $4.8 million project was funded with an Airport Improvement Program grant and FAA entitlement monies. Indiana's Office of Aviation contributed another 1.25%, and the airport funded the remaining 3.75%, chronicles Hinderman.

Go Around

Engineering consultant RW Armstrong designed the reconstruction and extension of FWA's existing Northwest Perimeter Road, which originally consisted of four-inch asphalt laid directly on a soil subgrade.

"The existing roadway was never designed to support heavy vehicle traffic," explains project manager Nathan Lienhart. "It required complete reconstruction." At the same time, the roadway was realigned and extended to accommodate future plans for the extension of Runway 14-32 and the addition of an aircraft parking ramp adjacent to Taxiway Y, adds Lienhart.

After the existing asphalt was removed, six inches of FAA P-209 aggregate was laid to support 12 inches of P-501 concrete along approximately 4,700 feet of existing roadway and 4,500 feet of roadway extension. In addition, a 3,500-foot section of 16-inch P-501 concrete poured over six inches of P-402 concrete on a six-inch base of P-209 aggregate was laid to support aircraft that will cross the roadway to gain access to the future parking ramp.

While the new 12,700-foot road keeps vehicles from crossing Runway 14-32, it does intersect a taxiway on the southwest side of the airfield.

"Fuel trucks still have to drive a short distance on a taxiway to get to a general aviation ramp," Hinderman says. "But it's a low-volume taxiway, and we worked with the FAA to create a letter of agreement to allow fuel trucks to access the taxiway. Vehicles follow a 'look-and-go' procedure. If the weather is bad, we monitor access carefully and communicate with ground control if necessary."

As a further precaution, personnel who operate a vehicle within the airport's perimeter fence must undergo annual vehicle operation training.

Diversionary Tactics

Overall, the project ran smoothly from August to November 2010, note airport officials. Crews did, however, experience a two-week delay during installation of a storm pipe, when general contractor Primco uncovered a 30-inch water line placed deeper than indicated on the drawings.

"Primco fed us some new survey information," Lienhart recalls, "and we went back to the drawing board to come up with a feasible solution to move the storm pipe around the water line and to the detention basin." In the end, the delay didn't prevent the project from being completed on time, he adds.

Providing adequate drainage to meet FAA and Allen County requirements was an additional challenge. Although the airport authority is not under county governance, stormwater dispersion is. Moreover, drainage needed to meet the FAA's 48-hour standing water requirements.

Approximately 6,000 linear feet of storm sewer pipe with diameters from 12 inches to 48 inches was installed. A six-acre dry detention basin and a smaller detention basin on the northwest side of the airfield control water dispersion into a drainage ditch maintained by the county. A water quality structure was also installed to remove sediment and floating debris before water is released through discharge piping.

"We've had some pretty big snow melts this year, and the system is working great," Hinderman reports. "Standing water has drained from the basin within 24 hours."

Dispersing Information

Ensuring that road construction did not impact air traffic was a primary objective. Safety briefings were conducted at the field office each morning to inform workers about project- or airport-related issues that could potentially affect work that day.

In addition, weekly meetings were held with airport authority personnel, RW Armstrong representatives, the general contractor, subcontractors, FAA personnel and representatives from the Airport Public Safety Department and Airport Operations and Maintenance departments. The larger group reviewed work completed in the past week and discussed the upcoming week's work. It also addressed major contract items and issues that needed to be resolved. The airport authority then shared pertinent information from the meetings with airport tenants.

In addition, the airport authority posted project photos and progress narratives on FWA's FaceBook page - and about 3,700 followers logged on for updates.

Subcategory: 
Runway/Ramp

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