‘It truly is a mega-project’: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers halfway through excavating historic runway extension

Inside the Gates
U.S. Corps of Engineers halfway through excavating historic runway extension
Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 6:15 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s 16/34 runway which runs north and south is getting a major makeover of historic proportions.

In October 2022, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers broke ground on a $309 million runway extension project, the largest Pacific Air Force Construction Project awarded to date.

“It truly is a mega-project,” Project Manager Daly Yates said.

The runway is being extended from 7,500 to 10,000 feet in length. That extension, Air Force officials say, will improve their mission capabilities on base. In addition, it will shift operations to the extended runway, which will reduce conflict with other nearby civilian aircraft operations, leading to increased safety for everyone and lower impacts to flight operations.

Since breaking ground, Yates said the team has been in a good rhythm, only experiencing a slight delay from the weather.

“Now that we have transitioned into the summer months, the rain has been slowing us down just a bit,” Yates said.

The current progress puts the team on track to complete the massive extension by their expected completion date of either August or September 2025.

At the moment, the Corps has been working on excavating.

“Right now, as of June 30, we actually just crossed the seven million-cubic-yard milestone,” Yates said. “That’s about a million cubic yards a month we’ve been moving.”

This puts the team at more than halfway through the final expectation of 12 million cubic yards of mass excavation that needs to be done. From there, Yates said his team will final grade the site.

“The new airlifter road that will go around the new north end of the field is currently in position here — you can see some of the base course being placed — we’ll go ahead and get this area top soiled and extend the new runway out in this direction,” Yates said.

Despite breaking ground almost a year ago, there is still a lot to be done.

“A lot of our activities coming up here in the future are more weather dependent, such as paving, striping, electrical work — things we can’t really just do with brute force with the equipment behind us,” Yates said. “Those activities that are more complicated in nature require a little better weather conditions.”