Runway construction paves way for flight

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

After nearly three weeks of construction, Misawa Air Base’s runway became fully operational Aug. 5.

Due to the high volume of aircraft using the runway, the west section’s pavement surface was highly degraded resulting in the need for a repair. The 3,840 cubic meters of asphalt laid on the flightline spans a surface length of approximately 1,200 feet by 150 feet wide with 50 feet of shoulder width.

“Factors such as the volume of traffic, environmental conditions, adequate maintenance and type of vehicles use (i.e... snow plows during winter), all have contributing effects on the longevity of the pavement surface,” said Maj. Lionel Lanuza, the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron engineering flight commander. “As the runway pavement surface degrades over time, aggregate surface materials unbind and become loose debris. The resulting debris causes potential foreign object damage hazards to the aircraft and can threaten the safety of pilots.”

The project cost more than $2.1 million, using four milling machines, two pavers, 76 dump trucks and approximately 80 on-site personnel, ultimately enhancing the longevity of the runway and ensuring safety for 35th Fighter Wing, Naval Air Facility Misawa, CTF-72, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Misawa City Airport use.

“The more sorties we generate to support the pivot to the Pacific, the faster our runway will degrade,” said Kirk Schaumann, 35th CES chief of construction management.  “At the current rate of operation, to include the next phase of the runway repair scheduled in summer 2017, we estimate the next major airfield repair will be in 2026.”

The construction plays a vital role, ensuring the continuation of the 35th FW's mission to provide worldwide deployable forces, while also allowing partnership with JASDF across a number of disciplines and domains.

“The runway construction allows our Airmen to train with our JASDF allies,” said Schaumann. “This span of training not only involves pilots, but also the support functions such as the Air Force Civil Engineers. For example, during the runway closure, our civil engineering Airmen provided just-in-time training to JASDF's civil engineering personnel to install a Mobile Aircraft Arresting System, and ensure their alert mission is fully mission capable.”

According to Lanuza, during the construction the asphalt surface was applied in layers called lifts. To ensure optimum compaction and density was met, the lifts were applied in three thin layers on the runway and two on the shoulder sections.

“The contractor first performs a survey to calculate the materials he needs to remove and replace,” said Lanuza. “The contractor then removes the worn out portion of the runway to include the shoulder surface. Once removed, a thin layer of bonding adhesive, called a tack coat, is placed allowing paving operations to begin. Asphalt is then put into one continuous lift in order to minimize the joints. The final surface is then compacted, ensuring the pavement surface is at its optimum density. The last phase is installing runway marking and sealing the joints.”

Lanuza stated with a project of this caliber, multiple base agencies to include the 35th Contracting Squadron, 35th Security Forces Squadron and 35th Operations Support Squadron played a role in its success.

“It's been an awesome experience to work this project,” said Schaumann. “Our team was well prepared; from the planners, contractors, engineers, and other agencies, it is rewarding to see how great things can be accomplished with great and dedicated people.”