Gulfport-Biloxi airport busy reconstructing runway touchdown zones

Gulfport-Biloxi airport busy reconstructing runway touchdown zones

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A portion of the airfield at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport looks like a construction zone. The work is part of an ongoing improvement project to upgrade a portion of the runway.

A large section of concrete runway has been torn out at the north end of the airfield. The $13 million project will reconstruct the so called "touchdown zones."

"The runway touchdown zones are the area that on the runway receives the most impact when an aircraft lands. It's often times a lot of wear and tear, and this is a full reconstruction of the touchdown zones on the runway," said Airport Director Clay Williams.

The project is being done in phases. The southern section of the runway has already been upgraded. This week, workers began reconstructing the north end.

"We've taken up a strip of concrete pavement here, the touchdown zone. It's 150 foot wide, 1,800 feet long. We'll be replacing it with 12 inch concrete pavement," said Airport Construction Manager Carl Breland.

One of the partners in this project is the military. The National Guard Bureau has contributed $6 million toward the cost of the project. That's because the military accounts for more than 40 percent of the takeoffs and landings at the airport.

The biggest challenges for this project are weather and scheduling.

"To minimize disruption on aircraft operations, much of this work has been done at night. At least 50 percent of the work has been done at night," said Williams.

"Some of these areas here, we've had to raise the elevation of the pavement. We're bringing the ground up to meet the edge of the pavement so that we have a slope off of the pavement that's in compliance with the FAA regulations," Breland explained.

The entire project should be finished by early next year.

During the construction, the length of the runway was reduced from 9,000 feet to 6,500 feet.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.