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Forecast for Increased Air Travel Means Blue Skies Ahead for Concrete Runway Projects

Forecast for Increased Air Travel Means Blue Skies Ahead for Concrete Runway Projects

STURTEVANT, Wis. ( Feb. 2, 2004 ) – Although it cannot be said that the airline industry is soaring, the Airports Council International-North America is projecting some blue skies ahead and that means more concrete runways are in the works. The industry's trade council is projecting a 4-percent annual increase in domestic travel and that air traffic will rise back up to year-2000 levels within the next 12 months. Meanwhile, almost every major airport in the country has a large-scale capital improvement project underway. The infrastructure enhancements in these projects will make airports more efficient and, in turn, save airlines money by reducing delays.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (HJAIA) is in the midst of a 10-year, $5.4 billion expansion. Plans call for building a fifth runway, an international terminal, a consolidated car-rental facility, another terminal building and improving infrastructure.

Not all contracts have been awarded, or even bid yet. However, construction of a new 9,000-foot runway began in 2001 that will allow the airport to simultaneously receive three incoming airplanes instead of the current limit of two. Officials say this will reduce air pollution by decreasing both ground delays and holding patterns in the sky above the airport. Because delays at the busiest airports often have a ripple effect across the country, smaller airports are expected to experience reduced pollution from the work occurring at HJAIA.

Construction Begins
Atlanta-based Archer Western Contractors Ltd., a division of the Walsh Group, is the general contractor that secured a $159 million contract to build a runway bridge and taxiway bridge at HJAIA. Steve Nannini, assistant manager for the project, said, “The sheer size more than anything else is what's so impressive about this. At this point, we're constructing the substructure for the runway and taxiway bridges, which will strategically cross over Interstate 285.”

The runway bridge is being constructed for aircraft to pass over 10 existing traffic lanes of the Interstate highway. The bridge will be wide enough to permit future highway expansion of up to eight additional lanes. An adjacent bridge is being built for a taxiway to cross over the highway.

Interstate traffic will move under the runway in a tunnel-like structure with interior bent walls reaching up to 56 feet in height. It takes about 80 pours in two lifts to complete a bent wall, which is built in segments 32 feet long and 39 inches wide. Approximately 150 yards of concrete is being pumped in each of the 80 pours.

Putzmeister pumps supplied by Pioneer Concrete Pumping, Smyrna, Ga., are on the job site just about every day. Virtually every model up to 58-Meters within Pioneer's fleet of more than 30 units has been used in a variety of applications, from placing the 56-foot walls to construction prep work.

“Absolutely no problems have been encountered with the pumps and Pioneer is there ready to go when we need them,” Nannini said. “Once we start the expansive deck pours in July, 2004, there will be a high volume of concrete pumped daily and we're depending on Pioneer and their equipment to respond as promptly as they always do.”

The bridges over Interstate 285 are being designed and built as each construction step progresses. At times, contractor decisions must be made quickly to keep the project moving forward.

A conveyor belt extending 5.5 miles was put in place to transport 27 million cubic yards of fill dirt from nearby pits and, thereby reducing the wear and tear on surrounding road surfaces. Ready-mix supplier Allied RMC, Atlanta, set up a batch plant near the construction site.

Allied RMC is supplying a standard 4,000-psi mix for the bridge walls and will provide a 5,000-psi mix for the bridge decks. Scheduled for completion in February, 2006, the two bridges will have consumed more than 100,000 cubic yards of concrete.

Safety and Security
Dan Inglese, Pioneer's regional sales manager, said, “Safety and security is paramount on this project. Everyone associated with the job site, such as our pump operators, has had to attend a safety training class. Once a person is individually safety certified, they are issued a badge that allows them access to the site and this is strictly enforced.”

Like HJAIA, Chicago 's O'Hare International Airport is expecting growth in air travel and likewise has a large capital improvement plan in place. Although HJAIA has the largest passenger terminal complex in the world at 2.2 million square feet, the two facilities trade the title almost monthly as the world's busiest airport.

Owner: City of Atlanta
General contractor: Archer Western Contractors Ltd., a Division of the Walsh Group, Atlanta
Pumping contractor: Pioneer Concrete Pumping, Smyrna , Ga.
Ready-mix supplier: Allied RMC, Atlanta
Equipment: Putzmeister concrete boom pumps up to 58-Meters