ST. GEORGE — The runway repairs at St. George Regional Airport are on pace for completion, with crews having already excavated more than 30% of the project area.
The airport closed to all flights May 29 and will remain closed until Sept. 26 as crews from St. George-based JP Excavating tear out about 7,000 linear feet of runway and excavate to depths of 17 feet before refilling the affected portion with moisture-conditioned material in order to address blue clay issues.
The repairs became an unexpected necessity after only eight years of airport operation, during which time expansive blue clay caused heaving and cracking on a major portion of the 9,300-foot runway.
JP Excavating Project Manager Scot Pectol told St. George News the project is coming along well as of Saturday.
The repair work is being performed by eight crews consisting of about 120 people separated into two shifts using up to 50 pieces of equipment.
According to a newsletter from the city of St. George, over 300,000 cubic yards of material from the runway area has been excavated as of Thursday. This represents approximately 33% of the 888,500 cubic cards that will be removed in total.
Excavation started at the south end of the runway and is being performed in 1,000-foot sections. Each section is refilled with a soil mix consisting of native material and five feet of the moisture-conditioned clay, which acts as a plug, preventing any liquid from seeping into the soil beneath.
Over 65,000 square yards of an impermeable water membrane has been placed in the area adjacent to both sides of the runway zone. Crews from France, where the membrane is manufactured, have been on hand to oversee the installation of this moisture barrier, which will extend 165 feet from the edge of the runway.
Crews have also laid about 6,000 linear feet of drainage pipe, which is being installed to carry any errant water away from the runway and surrounding soil.
This week, crews will begin installing new electrical systems.
The project is anticipated to last four months, during which time other aspects of the airport will be improved upon, including the terminal and parking lot.
The $26 million project is being funded primarily by the Federal Aviation Administration, with about 10% of the cost being covered by the city of St. George out of a fund consisting of passenger fees.
The FAA settled on a total replacement of the affected portion of the runway after patching and crack-sealing measures failed to keep up with the ever-swelling soil, causing for bumpy landings and takeoffs.
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