By Jay Townsend
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Little Rock District
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District and Little Rock Air Force Base are working on a multi-year project to repair and replace one of the Air Force’s busiest runways without interrupting training. The original runway was built in the 1950’s, for bomber-type aircraft.
The Little Rock Air Force Base has the world’s largest fleet of C-130 aircraft. Its only runway is often busy, because its home to the 314th Airlift Wing. The 314th trains C-130 crews from the U.S. and 47 other nations.
The $107.9 million dollar project is funded through the Air Force’s operation and maintenance budget, and managed by the Little Rock District.
A concrete plant, also known as a batch plant, has been brought onsite to combine the various ingredients to form pavement. The plant is mixing up a specific type of pavement called Portland cement concrete pavement, or rigid pavement as it is sometimes called. This refers to the rigid concrete layer of the pavement structure that is in direct contact with the traffic.
The mixture and type of pavement are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and are used to ensure the Air Force gets a quality product that will last several decades.
Once the plant is finished mixing the pavement it’s immediately transported to the flight line construction site. From there it’s placed at the exact depth for the runway or landing zone.
The new runway is set to replace the 12,000-by-200 feet wide runway with a 12,000-by-150 feet wide runway to include lighting and communications upgrades and incidental work.
The runway’s complete overhaul comes after years of small patchwork types fixes. Just as roads crack and chip away from everyday wear and tear, so do runways.
The shortest runway length allowed for a C-130 to take off and land in training is 3,000-feet. To avoid training delays the corps has phased the demolition and construction allowing training to continue with half the runway in operation.