- Company: Southwest Concrete Paving
- Industry: Transportation
- Location: Mountain Home, Idaho
- Expected Completion Date: November 20, 2015
- Project Website
The Mountain Home Air Force Base (MHAFB) Repair Runway 12-30 and Taxiway “A” project made repairs, improvements, and upgrades to the primary runway and taxiway infrastructure at MHAFB, along with other related incidental work. These improvements renovated an aging runway, rebuilt large sections of the primary taxiway, and made selective repairs to other taxiway areas exhibiting cracking and spalling. The project scope included a complete mill and overlay of Runway 12/30 with a full depth repair of the 30-end overrun, complete demolition, removal, and replacement of identified sections of Taxiway Alpha including all base course and cement stabilized drainage layer, repair of identified spalls and cracks in existing concrete pavement, removal and replacement of PCCP joint sealant material, new runway and taxiway markings, shoulder replacement, sealant, and upgrades, new sub-drains underneath concrete pavement, as well as many other incidental features. The $41 million dollar project was constructed as a joint venture between Knife River and Southwest Concrete Paving (KRSW). When completed, the joint venture team had produced and placed over 73,000 tons of hot mix asphalt, and over 51,000 cubic yards of portland cement concrete pavement.
What impact does this project have on America?
Mountain Home Air Force Base (MHAFB), located in Southwestern Idaho, is home to the 366th Fighter Wing Organization. This group consists of three fighter wings (the 389th, the 391st, and the 426th Singapore squadrons), along with the associated 366th Operations, Maintenance, Mission Support, and Medical groups. As a whole, the wing population consists of more than 4800 military and civilian personnel who consider their primary mission to provide combat air power and support capabilities on a global scale, with rapid mobility, superior power, exquisite precision, and lightning agility. The 366th has a storied, and decorated history dating back to World War II. In short, these are the people who work to secure America’s freedom on a day to day basis.
Prior to construction of the project, the runway and taxiway facilities, which were over a half-century old, were considered to be the most decrepit in Air Combat Command. This project would breathe new life into the airfield and provide a work environment which is safer, less maintenance intensive, and more aesthetically pleasing to the airmen, mechanics, and base operations personnel working in and around the airfield every day. In addition to the obvious upgrades of new surface pavement, many other auxiliary improvements such as drainage, lighting, pavement markings and the like will also enhance the functionality, safety, and longevity of the airfield.
As it should, the local community takes a great deal of pride in MHAFB. Located in the small town of Mountain Home, the base primarily draws its non-resident population from the Mountain Home area, but is only a short drive from several other metropolitan areas including, Boise, Nampa, and Twin Falls. To a real degree the whole of southwestern Idaho is tied to MHAFB, and the face lift given the base from this project is a boon to the entire area. Additionally, the United States Air Force received major upgrades to a facility which provides training, support, and protection on a daily basis.
What interesting obstacles or unusual circumstances did you overcome to complete the project?
From its inception, this project was considered “high complexity” construction given the scope of work, scheduling constraints, and logistical challenges it posed. Contract oversight provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stipulated some of the industry’s highest quality standards for all aspects of production and construction. Accomplishing on-time delivery of the project required a high level of coordination, with significant amounts of off-peak construction operations with multiple crews working simultaneously in small areas, and many sub-contractors all performing a large portion of their work during active Air Force operations with live runway and taxiway status.
Shortly after the initial schedule was approved, the Air Force began implementing a series of significant phasing requirements that were added to the project by modification. Entire portions of the project were shifted and the runway repaving was changed from a full 90-day closure to a displaced threshold approach. This significantly intensified the already difficult scheduling and activity coordination, and put considerably more constraints on the joint venture. Despite these challenges the project was delivered on-time, considered a “truly Herculean effort” by the contracting officer.
Shortly after commencement of construction on the project, details of the planned new taxiway design revealed the reconstruct had been drawn in a non-planar manner. This non-planar design would not allow the contractor to simultaneously pave the job per project plans AND meet the stringent surface smoothness requirements of the project as designed. Significant sections of the taxiway were subsequently redesigned to allow the contractor to both pave per the project plans AND meet the quality requirements. The process of redesigning brought about its own set of challenges and caused a significant delay to the taxiway Alpha reconstruct. Despite all of this, KRSW was able to modify its schedule to make up for the lost time and deliver the job within contract time and with zero quality deducts on the taxiway paving.
What dangers and risks did you encounter, and describe any extraordinary methods used to keep workers safe?
The scheduling restraints which were inherent to the project became intensified by some of the items mentioned above. In the end, the brunt of these scheduling burdens was ultimately borne by the workers. The intensified schedule had multiple crews from both joint venture partners as well as each of their subcontractors working in close quarters adjacent to base operations on the active runway and taxiway on a day to day basis. In addition, the phasing changes and delays to redesign taxiway Alpha compressed project schedules further, all of which meant longer hours and a considerable amount of shift work by various crews. The net result was a lot of crews and individual workers in a small noisy area working around a lot of large equipment, frequently around the clock. These are typically the type of circumstances which lead to breakdowns in safety, however in more than 100,000 man hours on the project, there were no serious injury or lost time accidents recorded.
The volume and nature of construction around active runway and taxiway base operations provided additional safety and security challenges for not only the construction venture, but base operations as well. On a daily basis, workers had to pass through security checkpoints requiring thorough vehicle inspection as well as identification verification. The logistics of these inspections frequently caused delays at the gate entrance where base entry was delayed by several hours at times. Delivery vehicles were subject to those same inspections, which necessitated additional layers of coordination and presented another set of challenges to overcome in delivering and receiving materials needed for construction. Once on the base, all workers were required to perform FOD checks on vehicles and pass a secondary security checkpoint before entering or leaving the active construction zone. This required diligence and coordination with base tower operations so as to not impede jets which would frequently pass by ingress and egress points of the construction zone. Through all of this there were no accidents, and base missions were able to be conducted on schedule as planned.
Coordination of the multi-phase scheduling and the logistics of working around active runway and taxiway required a massive amount of partnering to effectively and safely navigate the project. In the end, key personnel for both joint venture partners worked cooperatively to facilitate activities on a day to day basis. Daily pre-activity safety meetings were carried out by each crew at the beginning of each work shift. Constant oversight was given to both the safety of the workers and of the air and ground personnel on base who were working in close proximity to the ongoing construction. Keeping clean work areas was imperative to prevent interference with the base activity which surrounded the construction zone. Given the circumstances, the teamwork shown by all involved was truly commendable, and was key to a successful project.
How did you leverage new technologies to work faster and reduce waste?
As mentioned, the joint venture partners worked cooperatively to navigate project scheduling, phasing, and redesign issues. Additionally there was a high degree of resource sharing during the project which enabled key aspects of construction to commence, proceed, or continue uninterrupted by jointly allocating equipment, personnel, or expertise where needed. This facilitated all aspects of construction and enabled smooth transitions from phase to phase.
Recycling of materials from the project demolition was also a key part of reducing waste and participating in “green” construction. Demolition material from the PCCP taxiway was taken to an on-site crushing spread, then crushed and screened to make the material that would be used as cement stabilized drainage layer underneath the PCCP. Asphalt millings from the runway mill and overlay were taken offsite and utilized for shoulder build-up on a nearby project.
Knife River Corp., which performed the mill and overlay of runway 12/30 utilized three mills concurrently to expedite demolition of existing AC on the runway. This, along with the aggressive schedule used significantly reduced construction time on the runway reconstruct. Knife River also used an innovative design to improve the existing notched wedge devices on either side of the pavement, which produced a joint that often had higher compaction results than the mat. The paving crew was able to quickly and successfully build a smooth pavement that earned full pay for its grade, material quality, and compaction. They have subsequently been presented with an award from the National Asphalt Pavement Association for the project.
Southwest Concrete Paving, which performed the reconstruct of PCCP on taxiway Alpha as well as other smaller areas on adjacent taxiways, mobilized three separate pavers to the project to facilitate and expedite construction around the various phasing requirements and design constraints. SWCP strategically integrated both two-track and four-track paving equipment into the appropriate areas of construction to maximize quality while adhering to its necessitated aggressive schedule. SWCP also utilized dual track-mounted placers to facilitate paving in tight quarters and at multiple locations within short construction windows. The construction team was able to successfully construct a quality pavement that earned full pay for grade, material quality, and surface smoothness. This was all done despite having to tie in to existing concrete having a high profile index at numerous locations.