SAVANNAH, Ga. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, Military Construction team took home the Gold for the American Concrete Pavement Association’s Military Airports award category during a ceremony in Nashville, Tn., Dec. 1, 2022, for the Pope Army Airfield runway reconstruction project that was completed within 120 days at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Project design and planning took twice as long as the actual construction for the $81.5 million, three-phased project.
The runway project replaced 9,501 feet of pavement on the installation’s north taxiway, south taxiway, and runway 05-23, it also upgraded lighting and reflective painting throughout the airfield between June 15 and Oct. 13, 2021.
“The upfront planning and flexibility were critical to the success of the project,” said Marcia Meekins, Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, area engineer at Fort Bragg. “Everybody understood the paving portion was the most important part, the longest pole in the tent, so to speak, and doing it right kept us ahead of the game.”
The airfield’s critical mission sets made it important to minimize the airfield closure time. Its primary user is the 43rd Air Mobility Operations Group which is a unique standalone group responsible for rapid strategic deployment of forces assigned to Joint Special Operations Command, the U.S. Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps and 82nd Airborne Division. The group provides combatant commanders with Airborne Joint Forcible Entry, combat airlift, aeromedical evacuation, aerial port, command and control, and other enabling capabilities.
“This project set the bar high,” Col. Joseph Geary, Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, commander, said. “It took teamwork, communication, and knowledgeable leadership to get a project this big done in such a short time. It’s a testament to the importance of partnerships with contractors and their skilled workers. This is well-deserved recognition for the entire team.”
Jimmy Luo, Savannah District’s project execution team chief for North Carolina, echoed Geary’s praise for the team, partnerships and timeliness. Additional Savannah District team members are: Charles Bauer, the Construction Division resident engineer, Lourdes Leyvacolon, Project Management, Robert Ford Project Engineer, Tonja Dreke, Contracting Officer, and Matthew Hoyle from the Omaha District’s Transportation Systems Center.
“Along with our federal partners, we leveraged USACE expertise from across the enterprise, during planning, design, and through construction, “Luo said. “Doing so allowed us to successfully re-open the runway on time in order to ensure Fort Bragg continued to operate as the premier power projection platform.”
The crews began by removing the existing pavement, which was crushed up and recycled for reuse. When one team completed its work, the next team moved in to perform its task. Once the concrete, asphalt, and dirt were taken care of, the entire runway surface was cemented with a mixture that was injected and tilled into the ground.
“The 120-day closure was based solely on the pavement work,” Meekins explained. “That was the minimum time needed to remove the old runway material and replace it with new concrete. Plus, it included adequate curing time. It also helped minimize the overall costs associated with closing the airfield and relocating training operations.”
During this same timeline, the airfield upgraded its lighting with LEDs along the runway edge, the threshold, sequenced flashing approach, signage, taxiways, aprons, and the precision approach path. The lighting required 300,000 linear feet of new conduit. In addition to this, 103,000 square feet of permanent retroreflective paint was applied within the last 10 days of the project. This allowed the airfield to be Instrument Flight Rules certified.
RC Construction and Millstone Weber were awarded the contract to complete the construction of the runway, lights, and painting at Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C.