The start of the $9.9 million project, which will be equally cost-shared by the federal and (Newfoundland & Labrador) provincial governments, as well as the Gander International Airport Authority, got underway more than a year after the funding announcement took place in St. John’s on March 23, 2011.
According to Stephen Burbridge, GIAA’s manager of infrastructure, the completion of the project will be in a much shorter time span — Oct. 4.
“The construction window is only about four-and-a-half months, so we’re definitely going to be pushing the time schedule,” said Mr. Burbridge. “It’s a huge project…it’s being done in three phases.”
While each phase will see the same work (pavement milling and recapping, upgrade electrical, and partial replacement of drainage system) being completed, the first phase will be the largest and most time consuming.
“The first phase will see approximately 2,420 metres of the runway work being done and will tentatively be done by Aug. 31. While it’s being done we will also be able to use the remainder of the runway for air traffic,” said Mr. Burbridge. “Once this is done, then we’ll do a section approximately 259 metres in length, with a tentative completion date of Sept. 13. Phase three will be about 430 metres. By doing it in this manner, we will minimize the disruptions to our operations, as well will always have some portion of that runway open.”
In terms of disruptions, Mr. Burbridge said he doesn’t expect there to be any disruptions in passenger traffic, but some of the larger aircraft that must use the full length of Runway 03, such as various cargo or military aircraft, may have to be diverted elsewhere. He said it would also depend on wind conditions on any given day.
In the days that followed the March 2011 funding announcement, GIAA president and CEO Gary Vey said Runway 03, which is approximately two miles in length and 240-feet wide, was originally built in the early 1960s, was recapped was in 1989, so the work is certainly needed.
“The lifespan of a runway depends on a number of factors such as the weather and quality of asphalt, and here in Gander, we’ve been averaging about 18-24 years, so we’re due,” Mr. Vey said at the time.
While Mr. Vey was excited about securing funding for the project, Mr. Burbridge is equally excited about heading up such an endeavour.
Having been only on the job since February, this will be his first runway construction project, even though he has more than 17 years of engineering experience with the Canadian military, City of Corner Brook and Parks Canada.
“I’ve been involved in many paving projects, but they’ve all been on the highways. The construction is slightly different, but the principles are the same. What’s really new for me is on the operational side,” said Mr. Burbridge. “I’m really looking forward to it.”