SLIDESHOW: Repairs finished on Sea-Tac Airport’s center runway

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Repairs were recently completed to Sea-Tac Airport’s center runway (16C/34C), which had been closed from July 8 – Aug. 2.

Port of Seattle Airport Media Specialist Christina Faine said this summer’s $8.9 million paving project is still underway, and also includes replacing pavement panels on the ramp and taxiways.

The center runway had been closed to allow workers to replace deteriorating concrete surface panels. Approximately 10 panels were replaced this summer, which represent less than one percent of that runway’s approximately 4,000 concrete panels. Work has been ongoing — in 2012, 19 panels were replaced, and 144 panels were replaced in 2010. The center runway was originally constructed in 1969 as the airport’s second north-south runway, and had a 20-year design life.

According to information provided by the Port of Seattle, about 670 of the 4,000 panels on the center runway have been replaced since 1994. Faine said that the concrete panels on the ramp and taxiways don’t have to be quite as thick as those on the runway, since planes exert significantly more pressure on the concrete panels on the runway during landing than when taxiing. This summer’s work is being performed by Gary Merlino Construction of Seattle.

Plans call for the center runway to be closed for several months in 2016 for complete reconstruction; the process will be similar to the 2009 rebuilding project of the easternmost runway (16L/34R), which cost $80 million.

The 2016 center runway closure will most likely take place during the summer months to take advantage of the dry, warm weather for construction. At 9,426 feet, the center runway is a smaller project than the 11,901-foot runway 16L/34R. Faine said It’s still too early in the process to determine the design or construction costs for the 2016 project.

During this summer’s closure, the Port of Seattle did not see an uptick in noise complaints. “We notified the community about the work in advance, which tends to create awareness and reduce such complaints,” she said.

This summer’s improvement project is being paid from airport development funds, which come from airline landing fees and from airport user fees. Faine said that taxpayer dollars did not fund any part of the project.

She said that preventive work taking place this summer ensures the safety of the runway for passengers and aircraft. The work is part of a comprehensive plan to replace the most damaged, aged and heavily-travelled concrete on the airfield. The current work will extend the life of the runway, allowing the Port to safely defer replacing the entire runway for several more years.

“The biggest benefit of the 2016 runway replacement is a new runway that will not require patching every year, safer operations, and an investment with a much longer lifespan,” Faine said.

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