Speed, reliability and global reach are hallmarks of FedEx service, all of which require ample resources. When forecasts signaled long-term package volume growth - particularly for international shipments - the corporation called on a key airport hub for additional capacity.
FedEx approached the Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) in 2005 with a $162 million proposal for a 400,000-square-foot expansion to its existing facility. The goal: to increase sorting capabilities. Although the corporation considered a number of other facilities in its U.S. network for expansion, Indianapolis International Airport (IND) - a FedEx hub since 1987 - was ultimately selected as the most strategic location to meet its needs. Memphis is now the only other domestic hub larger than Indy.
"The expansion will increase package processing capacity more than 30%, from 79,000 packages per hour to 99,000 packages per hour," says FedEx Express vice president Bob Palmer.
The three-phase project includes a 175,000- square-foot secondary sort building, a 40,000- square-foot aircraft maintenance hangar and an 8,000-square-foot ground support equipment building, which pushes the hub's total growth to more than 600,000 square feet.
"New gates and apron spaces for up to 14 additional wide-body aircraft are also included," notes Greta Hawvermale, IAA senior director of engineering and environmental matters. "Phase I and Phase II each yielded space for five additional aircraft. Phase III, which is currently under construction, will accommodate parking for four more aircraft."
Steve Lawrence, senior project manager with contractor RW Armstrong, says the first two phases of the three-phase project were "fast-tracked," with design and construction within 11 months in order to have the apron pavement available before the holidays. During each of the first two phases of construction, work was completed so FedEx could be prepared for the annual rush of packages beginning in mid-November.
"The notice to proceed with the construction was not received for Phase I until May 8," recalls Wayne Reynolds, IAA director of engineering projects. "The project team pulled together in a substantial effort to meet the deadline." Reynolds also notes that as the team began final grading operations, the contractor found construction debris in the middle of the site.
"We discovered it was part of an old interstate borrow pit, which had been filled with all sorts of rubble and covered with several feet of soil, making it undistinguishable from the surrounding area," Reynolds explains. "The debris had to be removed and backfilled with suitable soil, which was then compacted."
Despite the challenges, Phase I of the project was completed on schedule in November 2006; Phase II followed a year later in November 2007. Phase III and the expanded system are expected to be fully operational by the end of 2008. In total, the project will include approximately 125,000 square yards of 18-inch pavement at a cost of nearly $47 million.
Other major construction components include a drainage system and a hydrant fueling system with casing pipe to ensure secondary containment, as well as miscellaneous support systems including a nose tether tie-down assembly, apron lighting and a storm warning system.