TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE — Talk about recycling.
Travis’ old southeast runway has found new life as the underlying foundation for the base’s new, just-completed runway and landing zone.
“It creates a much stronger base than otherwise possible,” said Lt. Ryan Hill, airfield engineer with the 60th Civil Engineering Squadron, who said the project also saved thousands of dollars in hauling and disposal.
The runway project’s contractor even brought in material from other parts of the base, such as from old drainage pipes for example, to be crushed and recycled into runway base material. The amount of recycled concrete totaled approximately 138,000 tons.
Travis just completed one of the largest construction projects in its history – completely replacing one of its two major runways and building a new landing zone to allow C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to practice landing on shorter runways.
The design for renovating Runway 21-Left and building what was initially known as the assault landing zone was completed in 2005 and the contract to do the $68 million project was awarded in September 2008 to Baldi Brothers of Beaumont. Work on the runways started in February 2010.
Rebuilding Runway 21-Left would cost $50 million while building the landing zone would cost $17.5 million. The runways were two separate projects when they were conceived, but the Air Force saved $9 million by combining the work into one project.
“It just made sense to put them together,” Hill said.
Baldi Brothers had to completely renovate a runway that was built in 1946 and had been periodically widened and lengthened over the years to fit the demands of larger and larger aircraft that used it. Part of the redesign of Runway 21-Left narrowed its paved surface, which was better for the environment and lowered the amount of storm water runoff, according to Hill. The new runway is now 10,995 feet long and 150 feet wide.
The contractor started work three years ago by literally chopping up the old runway using a large guillotine machine that sliced the concrete into workable chunks, which were then broken into rubble.
After creating the base, Baldi Brothers then poured and set more than 75,000 cubic yards of new concrete on top to create a new surface that Air Mobility Command and Air Force engineers said was some of the finest concrete work that they had seen, according to Hill.
The runway’s lighting was also replaced and upgraded with 1,055 new LED lights, which are more visible to the aircraft, and 227 miles of wiring was replaced.
Building the 3,500-foot-long, 90-foot-wide landing zone runway on Runway 21-Left’s southeast side will be a money-saver for Travis and the Air Force.
C-17 and C-131 aircrews from Travis and other California bases such as March Air Force Base in Riverside County currently practice and get certified on how to land on short airstrips in austere, isolated locations, by flying to an airfield at Moses Lake in central Washington.
It is estimated that the new landing zone at Travis will save the Air Force approximately $7.8 million a year in fuel and other costs, “which allows the landing zone to pay for itself within two years,” according to Hill.
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