Evansville Regional Moves Roads & Railways to Reconstruct Runway

Robert Nordstrom
Published in: 

With the clock ticking and a dauntingly long list of complex enabling projects to complete, Evansville Regional Airport (EVV) recently beat the Dec. 31, 2015, FAA deadline for runway safety area improvements by over one year.
To do so, however, the airport had to:

  • acquire and demolish homes on 70+ acres of land
  • relocate utilities, roads and more than one mile of railroad
  • improve the approach to its secondary runway (so it could be used while the primary runway was closed)
  • decommission, relocate and install airfield navigational aids
  • relocate its primary runway and taxiway approximately 2,400 feet to the northeast
In total, the project cost $67 million and was financed largely with FAA Airport Improvement Program funds.

"The main purpose of this project was to comply with the runway safety standards passed by Congress approximately a decade ago," explains EVV Executive Director Doug Joest. "We didn't have a large enough safety area on the southwest end of our main runway. It was too close to roads, highways and railroad tracks and lacked the 1,000-foot safety area beyond the end of the runway that we needed."

When updating the airport's master plan in 2004, airport officials quickly realized that given the existing location of its primary runway, they lacked the space to make the requisite safety area adjustments.

Puzzle-like Project

Project: Runway Reconstruction & Relocation
Location: Evansville (IN) Regional Airport
Cost: $67 million
Funding: FAA Airport Improvement Funds (90%); state & local funds (10%)
Design & Engineering: CHA Consulting
General Contractors: Blankenberger Bros.; W.B. Koester Construction
Of Note: Multiple enabling projects included land acquisition & relocating a state highway and railway

Airfield Electrical: Alva Electric
Pavement Sawing & Coring: Capital Drilling & Sawing of Kentucky; Diamond Coring
Traffic Signals: Hummel Electric
Navigational Aids: HMI, Midwestern
Electrical Group
Runway Paving: JH Rudolph
Pavement Joint Sealing: Huff Sealing Corp.
Runway Grooving: Cardinal Int'l Grooving & Grinding
Soil Stabilization: Mt. Carmel Stabilization
Roundabout Concrete Construction: JBI Construction
Taxiway Paving: E&B Paving; JH Rudolph
Road Paving: E&B Paving
Road Guardrail: C-Tech Corporation
Pavement Milling: Mid-American Milling Co.
Airport Security Fencing: Tri-State Fence Co.; James H. Drew Corp.
Traffic Control Signage & Barricades: Indiana Sign & Barricade; Road Safe Traffic Systems
Pavement Marking: Road Safe Traffic Systems
Perimeter Road Pavement Marking: 
Indiana Sign & Barricade
Tree Clearing: Kramers Land Clearing
Material Transport: Liggon Trucking; Starnes Trucking; Naas Brothers; Denny Excavation; Paul D. Cooper; WBE Trucking; Ohio Valley Trucking; Materials Transport; AN Transport
Bridge Steel Construction: Harmon Steel
Erosion & Sediment Control: Earth Images; CA Fulkerson

Although EVV's primary airstrip, Runway 4-22, was closed from March to August 2014, preparatory work for the multi-phase project began back in 2008.

"We had to make improvements to crosswind Runway 18-36 to allow for commercial traffic once 4-22 was shut down," informs Todd Schultheis, vice president of aviation technical services, CHA Consulting (EVV's design and engineering firm for the project). "We had to clear trees on the approaches and put down precision markings. Runway markings were improved. Because it was a visual runway, GPS instrument approaches had to be added."

An environmental assessment performed after the master plan was updated determined that Runway 4-22 would have to be shifted approximately 2,400 feet to the northeast to make necessary improvements to the runway safety area. To clear that zone, however, a jigsaw-like series of enabling projects had to be coordinated and completed.

First on the agenda was relocating approximately 2,600 feet of an Indiana state highway and 9,400 feet of a county road - feats that included building two roundabouts and a major bridge structure. Another county road and a major bridge structure were also widened in the process.

In addition, approximately 6,650 feet of Indiana Southern Railroad tracks were relocated. The already formidable challenge of relocating the tracks was further complicated when the original railroad company was purchased by another railroad. "Here we were on a fast-track project, and we had to restart negotiations with a brand new owner," relates Schultheis.

Other major enabling projects included floodway improvements and mitigation of a local creek. Overhead electric power lines were removed and buried underground to improve the new runway's approach and provide LPV (localizer performance with visual guidance) landing minimums for Runway 18-36. Taxiway A was realigned and extended; homes on 14 parcels of property totaling more than 70 acres were acquired and demolished; and the airport's North Perimeter Road was extended. The perimeter fence around the new end of the runway was extended and upgraded with a higher, less penetrable model designed to prevent animals from sneaking through or digging underneath it.

Unplanned Hiatus

Given all the preparatory work that had to be accomplished before crews could begin reconstructing the primary runway, project timing and coordination were critical concerns. Then, just as the first phase of the project was designed and bid, the FAA pulled the brake lever.

"They halted the project for about six months in order to re-evaluate program costs," informs Scott Crimmins, CHA's consulting section manager of aviation technical services. "We quit working on design and preliminary engineering for the entire project. Then, when the FAA came back and told us we could start back up, they requested we shave a year off the program schedule.
"As the FAA Airports District Office became more comfortable with the accuracy of the cost estimates, they lobbied the regional office to accelerate the funding stream. Because of the way we had planned the project, we were able to take advantage of the accelerated funding by being ready to quickly advertise construction packages that fit the available funding."

Finally, with enabling projects nearing completion, contractors were ready to begin relocating and reconstructing Runway 4-22. Given last winter's extreme weather, however, airport officials were nervous about breaking ground for the new runway in early March.

To address their concerns, CHA specified the use of large quantities of chemical modifier. "This helped dry the soil and allowed contractors to start earthwork early in the year, when soils would not dry using conventional measures," Schultheis explains.

Construction crews demolished approximately 2,400 feet of pavement from the southwest end of Runway 4-22 and constructed an equal length on the northeast end. The old concrete was crushed onsite and used as base material for the new section of runway. Contractors milled off the top layer of asphalt and incorporated it into the new asphalt mix.

Before reconstruction began, crews relocated approximately 1 million cubic yards of dirt from various sites elsewhere on airport property to use as fill for the new runway extension. An additional half-million cubic yards, drawn from 9 feet of soil graded off the northeast end of the old runway
in order to meet FAA design standards, were moved during construction. 

At the peak of construction, more than 100 workers were onsite, reports Dianna Page, EVV's director of marketing and air service development. At one point, the project required so many dump trucks, contractors ran out of local options and had to import more from surrounding counties. "The project had a significant and positive economic impact on the community," Page relates.

Meeting the Challenge

Before closing Runway 4-22, EVV met regularly with airline tenants to update them on the project and facilitate smooth operations.

Because the various enabling projects were so intertwined, it was important to identify lynchpin items early, reflects Nate Hahn, the airport's director of operations and maintenance. "The entire project can be held up if you don't stay a step ahead. In fact, if you're not three steps ahead, you're probably a step behind," he muses.

Airport officials also held several public hearings to keep the local community informed. Residents' suggestions were studied as part of the environmental assessment.

By moving the runway away from U.S. Highway 41, aircraft now have a longer stretch of usable pavement. Under the old configuration, pilots approaching from the southwest could not use the runway's full length because of obstructions on the approach. The move also eliminates the intersection between the primary and secondary runways.

FAA Public Affairs Officer Tony Molinaro categorizes the EVV project as very important. "The project was done on time. And from a safety standpoint, it's important we got this completed," comments Molinaro. "It was a tough challenge for the airport. They had to move a railroad and a state highway. But they jumped right in and figured out how to meet these very challenging tasks. Now they have a safe runway ... and hopefully an even more efficient airport."

In retrospect, Joest is surprised that the airport didn't encounter a "big, show-stopping event" while improving the airfield. "When you enter into a project like this, you're always concerned about how wrong things could go," he relates. "We had challenges, but we worked through them. Like any project of this magnitude, you have a few surprises. But when those surprises came up, everybody worked together to find solutions."


FREE Whitepaper

Fairbanks International Airport Baggage Transport Conveyor Enhanced With Mod Drive™ System

Fairbanks International Airport Baggage Transport Conveyor Enhanced With Mod Drive™ System

Airports face a host of unique industry challenges, such as meeting efficiency regulations and seeking out the best maintenance practices to reduce costs and keep operations flowing. In today’s current economic climate, any potential cost savings can go a long way. 

In 2019, Alaska’s Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) sought to modernize its equipment and operations. They were dissatisfied with the performance of the gearmotors on their baggage transport conveyors and began searching for new suppliers. Regal approached FAI with a solution that could improve equipment performance and simplify maintenance, with the added benefit of energy cost savings: the Hub City® MOD Drive™ system.

This white paper discusses the hardware deployed, the test results and the annualized expectations for ROI.


Featured Video

Featured Video

# # #

# # #