Reconstruction of Oldest Runway on Challenging Fast Track
Work started in March on a $47.9 million reconstruction of Memphis International's east-west aligned runway (9-27). The reconstruction is one of the most challenging projects ever undertaken on the busy airfield.
This project is particularly challenging based on both the quantity of material needed and from a coordination and scheduling perspective. The reconstruction will take approximately 220,000 square-yards of concrete poured as a 20-inch surface pavement over several base layers. The project will be completed in a very short eight month time frame, which significantly increases the logistical difficulties.
This type of project is typically done over two construction seasons over two years during daytime hours. But, since Memphis International is both a cargo airline hub and a passenger airline hub, the project has been fast-tracked to minimize the length of time the runway will be closed. The east-west runway 9-27 is the runway closest to the FedEx hub. Even though the runway will be closed to all air traffic during the construction, three of six taxiway crossings must be kept open at all times for FedEx aircraft to pass between their hub and the airfield's other runways.
The engineers, through very careful, detailed and systematic planning believe they can meet the stringent completion deadline by keeping the work going around the clock. This should allow re-opening of the runway on December 1 in time for FedEx's busiest operational period – the holiday package delivery season.
Project engineering firm Kimley-Horn & Associates will direct the work of lead contractor Ajax Paving and sub-contractor APAC, Inc.
The runway was originally a sod surface dating back to 1929 and was given a hard pavement during the 1940s when the Army Air Corp occupied the field. It was last overlaid with asphalt four years ago, but now requires a complete overhaul. The new concrete pavement will be more durable and will provide a longer service life to handle the heavy use by today's large aircraft.
The other three (north-south) parallel runways will temporarily absorb the traffic that normally operates on runway 9-27.
Work is underway on runway reconstruction