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Excavation/Site Development: Portland Municipal Airport Runway Reconstruction
Cleary Construction Inc. of Tompkinsville, Kentucky, successfully completed the Portland Municipal Airport Runway Rehabilitation Project for the City of Portland, Tennessee, in fall 2022. The Portland Municipal Airport is located off US Highway 52, in the fertile farmland of Sumner County. With some hard work from the City of Portland leadership, the Federal Aviation Administration awarded the City of Portland an exclusive federal grant for this project.
Cleary crews arrived and hit the ground running in May 2022 with the quick 120-day construction schedule. Cleary had already met a tight pre-construction submittal timeline and had ordered all materials to ensure even having a chance at meeting the narrow construction timeline.
The project began with the removal of 42,683 square yards of asphalt and 17,323 cubic yards of excavation. The reconstruction consisted of 57,000 cubic yards of reclaimed cement treated base, 10,618 linear feet of underdrain piping to ensure proper drainage of water away from the pavement, and over 3.5 miles of electrical and communications conduit.
To finalize the runway and taxiway, illuminated guidance signs were installed, and over 32,000 square feet of reflective markings were painted on the runway. To put the final touches on the entire project, Cleary spread 10,000 cubic yards of topsoil, installed 8,200 square yards of sod, and installed seed and straw on an additional 17 acres.
A typical project of this size would normally allow eight months to a year for construction due to material availability, scope of work, and complexity of the project; this project allowed less than half that time since the Airport would be closed for the duration of the project for the rehabilitation of the runway. Not only was the construction timeline quick, but the preconstruction timeline was also short, which conflicted with the already typically longer lead times that electrical fixtures etc. on these types of projects can feature. Cleary met both challenges to deliver the airport back in service to the community as quickly as possible.
The project was also remote, approximately 50 miles from Nashville and approximately 190 miles from Knoxville, making logistics on materials an issue to contend with. The nationwide shortage of fly ash used in the reclamation of the cement treated base also created a major challenge in completing this project on time. Luckily, Cleary was able to pull resources from both Knoxville and Nashville to minimize the delay in material procurement.
Challenges and Innovative Solutions
Design plans called to rehabilitate the runway instead of demolishing and rebuilding in an effort to maximize the budget and funding allowed for this project. Since the asphalt was already present, it was utilized as the base instead of the normal subbase prep under new construction. Thus, the runway portion only required a 5-inch thick pavement instead of the normal 12 to 24 inches.
The paving contractor, Rogers Group Inc. worked well with Cleary to remove the existing asphalt. The milled asphalt was stockpiled and placed back in place once the excavation operations were completed. The Reclamation contractor then reclaimed the cement treated base to a depth of 12 inches thick. Two layers of chip seal were then installed ahead of the two layers of asphalt. Existing conditions around the present runway had caused some of the pavement to fail due to ground water. Cleary encountered poor ground conditions in a few areas that required undercutting the subgrade and placing shot rock to ensure the newly constructed runway was protected from future groundwater issues. Underdrain piping was also installed to remove rainfall and other water from the area surrounding the pavement to avoid any potential issues in the future.
Cleary self-performed the grading and drainage portion of this project with its state-of-the-art Caterpillar equipment. Trusted and local vendors like Rogers Group supplied the stone for the project, while Buzzi Unicem USA supplied the Portland Cement for the cement treated base. Both Rogers Group Inc. and Pozzolonic Contracting & Supply Co. Inc. were key partners in the project, getting rideability and cross slope to meet standards and specifications. The coordination between the subcontractors and vendors on this project was crucial to maintain the tight time frame and produce a successful project that all could be proud to turn over to the community.
Benefit to the Client and Community
The fully funded Federal FAA Grant paid for all materials and labor on the project, allowing the City to use tax funds in other much needed areas. Also, the Airport got a completely new runway and taxiway lighting system including the modern LED system, new controls, and signage. This will allow the Airport to operate safely and efficiently for years to come. Cleary is proud to have completed another project on time and under budget. Cleary would like to thank everyone involved in the project from the FAA, TDOT, City of Portland Municipal Airport, Garver-USA, all subcontractors, and vendors for their hard work on this project. It is a project for the community that everyone can be proud of.