San Francisco Airport completes runway reconstruction ahead of schedule

Posted: 20 September 2019 | | No comments yet

As the runway at SFO dates back to the 1960s, the development team allowed extra time for its reconstruction project in case it had to deal with any unforeseen circumstances.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has announced that it has completed the Runway 28L Reconstruction project one week ahead of schedule, completing the installation of a new base layer plus repainting the surface layer of the runway. 

Airport Director, Ivar C. Satero, said: “I am proud to announce the re-opening of Runway 28L at SFO, ahead of schedule. This tremendous accomplishment was made possible by the outstanding collaboration between airport staff, airlines at SFO, the FAA, and our construction partners, and I am grateful to the entire team for completing this work safely and expeditiously. Most importantly, I would like to acknowledge the inconvenience this work caused to our customers, and thank them for their patience during this critical project, which will ensure the long-term reliability of our runway system at SFO.”

Since the closure began at the beginning of September 2019, crews have been working continuously 24 hours per day to create the new base layer for the Runway 28L. Because the previous base layer dates back to the early 1960s, the project team built time into the schedule to allow for unknown conditions below the base layer, which would have required additional excavation and material installation. These contingencies were not required, as the soil below was found to be stable, allowing crews to move immediately to the installation of a new pavement structure.

Until all runways have reopened, SFO still advises travellers to continue to expect delays and potential cancellations and recommends that travellers contact their airline directly for updates.

The total length of Runway 28L is 11,381 feet. The project reconstructed a 1,900-foot section of Runway 28L, replaced lighting and drainage infrastructure and overlaid a 600-foot section of Runway 1L.

SFO repaved the entire top layer of Runway 28L in spring 2017. During this project, core sampling and ground-penetrating radar indicated that the base layer was showing signs of fatigue cracking due to the large amount of aircraft activity in this area. This issue required additional investigation and engineering that could not be addressed at that time. SFO staff evaluated multiple options and concluded that the best long-term solution was to excavate the section of Runway 28L at the intersection of Runway 1L and 1R to reconstruct the pavement structure, comprised of a cementitious aggregate base and a top asphalt surface.

With input from airlines at SFO, the project team selected the period of September 7-27, 2019 for the closure to avoid the busy summer and year-end holiday travel seasons. This timeframe was also chosen for the low probability of precipitation, as dry weather is necessary for asphalt paving.

The contract for the Runway 28L Reconstruction project was awarded to Golden Gate Constructors. The project is federally-funded, and the total project cost is expected to be $16.2 million.