Parks & Facilities Blog
In August of 2016, the Hutchinson Airport received a FAA grant to begin reconstruction of runway 17/35. This project has been in the planning stages for more than nine months using our selected airport engineering consultant, HW Lochner. Like most public infrastructure projects, airport projects have several stages that must be clearly defined as part of an Airport Master Plan. I'll provide more information about Airport Master Plans and specifically KHUTs Master Plan in a later post. One of the primary differences between normal road and street projects in Hutchinson as compared to a runway reconstruction project is the funding mechanism and some of the "hoops" you must jump though when working with the FAA. These various hoops do sometimes add length and cost to the overall project time frame, however they are mostly put in place as a "check & balance" system in order to make sure that the project is completed correctly and meets the FAA standards for airport projects. Most of these large airport improvement projects require an Environmental Assessment (EA) that is often times performed several years before initial construction of the project. Because of the complexity and time frames of many airport projects, we try to include several future projects in the same EA. Once the runway project was designed, publicly bid and the notice to proceed was issued Donglinger Construction (out of Wichita) in September of 2016, two of KHUT's three runways were closed while construction started. Unfortunately because of the layout of the Hutchinson Airports runways, our primary instrument approach runway was closed to all traffic. This meant that we lost our IFR (instrument flight plan traffic) and many of our student pilots during this phase of the construction.
The complete runway projects includes several additional changes to the Hutchinson Airport including geometric and facility/infrastructure. As part of removing and reconstructing runway 17/35, the FAA included shortening runway 4/22 by 1600'. This was due to a 2008 study in which it was determined that the intersection of runway 35 and runway 4 proved confusing to aircraft and ground vehicles near that intersection. Because of the location and layout of the parallel taxiways and how they intersect each of their subject runways, pilots and drivers often times would have to ask the Air Traffic Controllers about how to proceed. This intersection was listed in the national airport database as a "Hot Spot". Under current airport design standards, if a "Hot Spot" can be removed as part of a planned airport improvement project, it must be considered as part of that project. Therefore, while developing the scope for the runway 17/35 reconstruct, it was determined that shortening runway 4/22 would mitigate the "Hot Spot". In addition to removing pavement for runway 4/22, the project also included a new LED runway lighting system for 17/35 and updated PAPI (precision approach path indicator) lights. The FAA Flight Procedures office is also developing LNAV (lateral navigation) approaches into the new runway 17/35. This means vertically guided GPS approaches, so pilots can use this runway in bad weather. The more options you have for instrument procedures into an airport, generally the safer it is for pilots. Hutchinson enjoys nine different procedures into the airport.
Work proceeded as planned in the allotted time frame for the runway and the primary contractor was able to complete the first phase of the project, basically reconstruction of the north end if runway 17/35 from taxiway Charlie intersections (see photo below). We were planned to close the project down towards the middle of December knowing that the weather would not be conducive for continuing to pour concrete. The second phase of the project is planned to begin the middle of March 2017 with phase three beginning sometime in August. The planned completion date for the entire project is middle to late fall, 2017. Below are some statistics about the project:
- Total Planned Cost: $6.13 million
- Federal Share: 90%
- Local Share: 10%
- Tons of Concrete: 19,015
- Miles of wire: 11.09
- Total Days Estimated: 290