Despite Rain, Runway Resurfacing Finishes on Time

By Beacon Staff

During the first week of repaving the main runway at Glacier Park International Airport, it was cold and threatened to rain. The second week, there were no more threats – it just rained.

“It did give us some anxious moments and it did stop work,” said Airport Director Cindi Martin.

But the resurfacing crew, which included workers from Knife River Corporation and airport employees, made up for lost time. Workers pushed back smaller projects and focused strictly on the large runway resurfacing, allowing the project to be finished on time at 9 a.m. on Aug. 28.

In total, it took 12 days of 24-hour shifts to complete the project. Crews began working on Monday nights at 10 p.m. – starting on Aug. 3 – and labored through the night until Friday mornings at 9 a.m. for four weeks. This schedule meant that the runway could stay open during the prime weekend travel hours.

Resurfacing Glacier Park International Airport’s runway was the top infrastructure improvement priority in the state for the Federal Aviation Administration, Martin said. Though Martin said the existing runway was safe, the wear and tear of Montana weather took a toll on the pavement.

Aside from 1,000 feet of the roughly 9,000-foot runway that had already been repaved, the last resurfacing efforts took place in 1991. This latest project resurfaced the remaining 8,000 feet of the runway with asphalt. It shouldn’t have to be repaved again for another 18 to 20 years, Martin said.

“We’ll have a very aggressive maintenance plan going forward,” Martin said.

Knife River was in charge of the actual resurfacing, while a company named CH2M Hill headed up the engineering. Knife River put 120 employees on the project. While the original cost estimate was $7.2 million, the contract came in a little under $7 million. Martin expects the final cost to be even less than that.

All that is left to do now, Martin said, is plant grass seeds around runway, finish painting stripes and put grooves in the runway for water runoff. The grooving will take place in late September.