Tulsa Airport begins work on main runway to last about 60 days


April 15--Demolition is under way on the south end of Tulsa International Airport's 30-year-old 10,000-foot main north-south runway, airport executives said Thursday.

In preparation for the $7.7 million reconstruction of the south 1,300 feet of the runway, workers for Sherwood Construction Co. Inc. are using concrete saws to break up the 18-inch-thick, 150-foot-wide old concrete and hauling it away. Sherwood will crush the old concrete and reuse it on other projects, officials said.

Jeff Hough, deputy airports director of engineering and facilities, said Sherwood will make some repairs to the 12-inch rock base sub-grade and install edge drains to draw precipitation away from the pavement before pouring the new concrete.

The 120-day project will remove 2,500 feet of the runway from aircraft use for 60 days, Hough said. The section includes 1,300 feet that is being reconstructed and a 1,200-foot runway safety area.

"The north 7,500 feet (of the runway) is all available," Hough said. "We relocated the landing threshold about 2,500 feet north, leaving 7,500 feet of the runway. The concrete will be poured after all the prep work is done. It will probably take two or three weeks to put the concrete back in."

A shortage of Federal Aviation Administration grant money will lengthen the $70 million runway project from five to seven or eight years, airport executives said.

In a recent conference with FAA officials in Fort Worth, Hough and Airports Director Jeff Mulder were advised the agency probably could not fund the $12 million to $15 million a year needed for the runway project to be completed in five years.

"Because of the environment at the federal government level, it's going to be tough to fund at that level," Mulder said. "We talked about how to approach this and how to keep the project moving."

Among the topics discussed with the FAA officials were dividing the runway project into phases. Also discussed was reconstructing the worse sections of pavement and doing the rest in phases, Mulder said.

Federal and local officials also talked about the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust issuing a letter of intent under which TAIT would borrow money to fund the runway project while the FAA pledges grant money to pay back the loan, Mulder said.

"Whether you borrow the money and have the interest expense or you wait for (FAA) funding and it drags out over seven or eight years, it complicates things and ends up costing more money," Mulder said.

Hough said he expects TAIT will accept bids for the second phase of the runway project in August.

The second phase will get under way next winter or spring, involve reconstruction of the north 800 feet to 1,000 feet of the runway and cost an estimated $7 million, Hough said.

D.R. Stewart 918-581-8451