“While it may look as though little is happening, the contractor has already cleared 330,000 square feet of brush at the runway’s far west end,” said Mike Handrahan, airport manager.
Construction to lengthen the east-west runway paralleling SW 136th Street along the south side of the airport is anticipated to take nearly one and one-half years. The project to extend the runway from 5,000 to 6,000 feet began on June 1 with a 493-calendar day construction time line, meaning the extension should be completed around late 2011.
A contract for $4.4 million was awarded to H&R Paving Inc., following final approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and coordination with planning phases developed with the Aviation Department and airport management in recent months.
Those details included identifying required office space, ordering materials, scheduling contract labor and resources as well as coordination of work between the FAA and FPL, according to Greg Chin, Aviation Department spokesperson.
Temporary curtailment of activity during the expansion contract has been anticipated by airport FBOs (Fixed Base Operators) as a price for future ability to accommodate servicing newer private jet aircraft.
“Some closures limiting use of the runway will occur during the 12- to 18-month construction period,” Handrahan said.
Limitations will not begin until mid to late August as final construction details are worked out with the contractor, he added. Operators servicing newer private aircraft have told airport officials they lose business to neighboring airfields, like Opa-locka Airport, that accommodate longer non-stop flights. Larger fuel capacities of modern aircraft eliminate intermediate stops for refueling, cutting back flying times.
Complementing runway expansion is a parallel extension of a 50-foot wide taxiway and a runway entry-exit connector, Chin said. Related construction work includes airfield drainage, signage, runway and taxiway pavement markings and grooving, installation of medium-intensity taxiway lights and high-intensity runway edge lighting.
The project also includes improved aids for pilots, including relocation of all visual and electronic NAVAIDS, and replacing an existing visual approach slope indicator with a precision-approach path indicator, localizer, and glide slope runway alignment indicator lights, he said.
Originally planned in 2006, reduced funding and FAA approval requirements, including a $250,000 environmental study, delayed the project’s start and reduced the original planned extension from 2,350 to 1,000 feet. A recently developed economic analysis by Florida Department of Transportation reported that the airport was responsible for total earnings of $204 million and creating 2,018 jobs representing an estimated $67.4 million annual payroll, Chin noted.