Runway reconstruction at St. George Regional Airport reaches midway point

ST. GEORGE — Progress on the reconstruction of the St. George Regional Airport’s runway reached 50% this week.

Crews start early to beat the heat and take advantage of more comfortable working conditions during runway repairs at St. George Regional Airport, St. George, Utah, July 2019 | Photo courtesy of the city of St. George, St. George News

The airport is in the middle of a closure necessitated by the need to tear up and reconstruct 5,400-feet of the runway. Crews are excavating 17 feet down in order to address blue clay and other expansive material issues that have plagued the airport since 2012. The airport closed May 29 and is projected to reopen for commercial flights Sept. 26.

The runway has been redesigned with oversight from the Federal Aviation Administration, the city of St. George and geotechnical engineers specializing in runway construction, according to a newsletter issued by the city.

The excavation and reconstruction of the runway are being conducted by St. George-based JP Excavation, which is in the process of filling the runway with neutralized clay plug material to a depth of 5 feet. Atop the clay plug material will be 12 feet of fill material.

Going on top of the fill material is an impermeable water membrane, of which work crews have placed 305,000 square-yards so far.

A graphic showing the layers being placed during the runway reconstruction at St. George Regional Airport. | Graphic courtesy of the city of St. George, St. George News

Over 22,000 linear feet of drainage pipe designed to carry water away from the runway has also been installed.

At the beginning of the project, JP Excavation crews worked night and day on the runway project. Night work has ceased with the progress of the project, with one shift of 60 people working in the daytime. Electricians are working to install the necessary systems for airport operations.

Prior to the airport’s closure, efforts were made to patch cracks that began appearing on the runway over time. It was eventually discovered that moisture was getting under the runway and causing the blue clay underneath to expand. This ultimately created an uneven surface running across a large part of the 9,300-foot runway.

The $26 million project is primarily funded by the FAA, with the city of St. George picking up 10% of the cost. The city’s portion is being covered by a passenger fee fund.

The airport is anticipated to reopen 63 days from Thursday.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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