The Port of Seattle is reconstructing Sea-Tac Airport’s center runway (designated as 16C/34C), originally built in 1969, and scheduled to be completed and re-opened on Oct. 30, 2015. The project includes installation of a new LED runway lighting system and an automated electronic Foreign Object Debris (FOD) detection system to provide additional safety on the runway. Portions of connecting taxiways are also being replaced along with associated electrical, water, and aging storm water infrastructure. This is the first reconstruction of the runway since it was built in 1969. The runway was originally built with 14-inch thick pavement and a 20-year life design. Over the last 20 years, 600+ panels (out of 4000) have been replaced to keep the runway operational. The project will cost approximately $95 million. Upon completion, all three SeaTac runways will have been built or rebuilt in the last seven years. The new runway is designed to last 40 years. Here are some great photos of the reconstruction, as shot by resident Elston Hill (with Jackline) on Friday, July 17 (click images to see larger versions/slideshow): 01aSeatac_0369 02aSeaTac_0099 03aSeatac_0347 04aSeatac_0398 05aSeatac_0621 06aSeaTac_0826 07aSeaTac_0856 08aSeaTac_0857 09SeaTac_0898 10aSeatac_0374 11aSeaTac_0176 12aSeaTac_0931 13aSeaTac_0957 14aSeaTac_0955 15aSeaTac_1034 16aSeaTac_0226 17aSeatac_0312 18aSeaTac_0939 19aSeaTac_1051 20aSeatac_0493 21aSeatac_0558a 22aSeatac_0585 23aSeatac_0693 23aSeaTac_0978 24aSeaTac_1059 The port has received $15 million in FAA grants and anticipates another $10 million in future FAA grants. The remaining funding was allocated from Airport Development Funds, Airport Improvement Project Grants, and future revenue bonds. The existing concrete from the runway is being recycled and crushed on site into gravel as the sub-base for the new runway. This is anticipated to be over 300,000 square yards of recycled concrete.  Over 200,000 square yards of new concrete will be placed for the new runway. The new runway will consist of eight inches of crushed rock sub-base, four inches of asphalt, and 18 inches of Portland cement concrete. Over 16,000 feet of new storm drain pipe will be installed. Additional Project Facts:

  • 16C/34C is 9,426’ in length. (Sea-Tac’s longest runway, 16L/34R is 11,901’ in length and its third runway, 16R/34L, is 8,500’).
  • Upon completion of the project, all three of Sea-Tac’s runways will have been constructed or rebuilt within the last seven years.
  • 16R/34L was built in 2008, while 16L/34R was reconstructed in 2009.
  • The lifespan of the reconstructed center runway is estimated to be 40 years.
  • The runway surface is made up of 4,000+ concrete panels, each measuring 20’ X 18.75‘. Over the course of the last 20 years,
  • 600+ panels have been replaced to keep the runway operational.
  • The concrete from the runway will be recycled and crushed on site into gravel that will be used as the sub-base for the new runway. This is anticipated to be over 300,000 Square Yards (SY) of recycled concrete.
  • Over 200,000 SY of new concrete will be poured for the new runway.
  • The new runway will consist of eight inches of crushed rock sub-base, four inches of asphalt, and 18 inches of Portland cement concrete.
  • Over 16,000 linear feet of new storm drain pipe will be installed.
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9 replies on “PHOTOS: Reconstruction of Sea-Tac Airport's center runway underway”

  1. Great story, great pictures, thanks for sharing. What are those purple things on the rebar?

    1. Those are a rebar kind of thing between the squares of concrete. They also serve to stabalize the concrete as the airplanes roll from one square to the next.

  2. Surprised they even bothered!
    My understanding was that the center runway has been little-used since the 3rd runway was built. Since it’s packed in so close to the other two, it’s not allowed to be used during fog, so it doesn’t allow the airport to schedule any more flights than if they just had the two outer runways. I would have almost expected them to save money by just taking it out, rather than rebuilding it.

  3. Square yards doesn’t really tell how much concrete, just the area it covered. However, if area is what they really mean and are removing 300,000 square yards and pouring only 200,000 square yards does that mean the runway is only twp thirds as wide as the old one or just two thirds as long. Or did they get the numbers from a Public Relations specialist rather than an engineer.

  4. @Lee, the “public relations specialist” most likely meant cubic yards rather than square. All concrete is measured in cubic yards whether it comes wet in a mixer or in dump trucks that will load it from an onsite batch plant and poured on the ground then screeded. Broken concrete/asphalt is also measured in cubic yards in my experiences.
    The purple coated rebar goes between each of the 4,000 panels.
    They do the same thing on the interstates (after the fact) where you see the slots cut into the seams on the panels, put in the bar then fill it in with high strength concrete. Typically if your in the right lane (truck lane) and the road feels like a wash board, they haven’t secured the panels.

    1. I agree that cubic yards would be a more rational unit but if that is what they mean it makes even less sense. They would then be saying that the 8 inch sub base of crushed gravel (concrete) uses 300K cubic yards but the 18 inch concrete pour uses only 200K cubic yards.
      Either I’m mmissing something or the numbers are nonsense.

  5. Sure been a LOT more noise over my house! Can’t sleep at night with windows open
    and it is very HOT with the windows closed.
    The Port AND the FAA are in violation of noise ordinances as well being in
    violation of their agreements with the public which was presented at public meetings
    in order to build the third runway!
    I recall at a meeting back in about ’97 or ’98, where they said that the
    third runway would ONLY be used to land traffic in foul weather and when
    heavy inbound aircraft needed to land simultaneously. It would NEVER be
    use for take-offs.

    1. Call the port of seattle tell them your issue. They will have someone come out and do a noise/sound db level check and if the noise is to much then they will help insulate your house or change your windows .

    2. BR, as I recall, the promise was “never 3 runways for takeoffs”, not “never takeoffs on the 3rd runway.” So long as they only use two at a time, I think they’re in the clear.
      But like Jimmy says, if there’s a noise issue, get the Port out there with some sound meters. If it’s louder than allowed, they will pay for insulation and sometimes even air-conditioning!

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