Rebuilt Runway Now Open
After nine months of fast-tracked reconstruction, runway 9/27 reopened on schedule on November 30 in time for the busy Christmas travel season. The total reconstruction of the 8946’ east-west pavement cost $49 million.
The reconstruction used approximately 220,000 square-yards of concrete poured as a 20-inch surface pavement over several base layers. This concrete surface is much more durable than the old asphalt surface and is expected to significantly reduce future maintenance costs. The 20-inch surface pavement brings the runway’s strength up to the same level as the other three runways.
This type of project is typically done over two construction seasons during daytime hours. But, since Memphis International is both a cargo airline hub and a passenger airline hub, the project was fast-tracked to minimize the length of time the runway was closed. The east-west runway 9-27 is the runway closest to the FedEx hub. Even though the runway was closed to all air traffic during the construction, three of six taxiway crossings were kept open at all times for FedEx aircraft to pass between their hub and the airfield’s other runways. It was very important to get the runway project completed before FedEx’s busy holiday shipping season.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) local maintenance group performed the required flight check on November 12, to test all the navigational aids, approach lights and runway lights to make sure the equipment was operating properly before allowing its use.
Following the flight check, the FAA’s Certification Inspector from FAA’s Southern Region Office in Atlanta conducted a detailed inspection of the lights, signs, striping and pavement markings and verified that the Tower had full operational capabilities of all the systems before the runway was cleared for use.
The renovation of runway 9/27 essentially gives Memphis International a new airfield, as all the runaways have been redone during the past 13 years.
It should be a minimum of 20 years before a runway at Memphis International needs to be renovated again.
Kimley-Horn & Associates was the lead design firm for the project. The general contractor was Ajax Paving Industries, Inc.
Photography by Cameron Davidson
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