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NEWS | Aug. 7, 2013

Joint Base Charleston hosts runway ribbon cutting event

By Capt. Frank Hartnett Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Military officials, construction contractors and local civic leaders gathered to mark the end of major construction efforts on the main runway, August 8, 2013, at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base, S.C.

The ribbon cutting ceremony featured speakers from DWG & Associates, the 628th Air Base Wing, Charleston County Aviation Authority and the 437th Airlift Wing.

The original main Charleston runway was more than 40-years old and required extensive safety inspections and spot repairs to ensure safe use. The new runway cost more than $40 million and required 355,000 man hours to complete.

"We replaced the runway before it became a danger," said Lt. Col. Matthew Leard, 437th Operations Support Squadron commander. "There were cracking issues and FOD concerns, but we took action before it went any further."

A project of this scale required close coordination with all users of the airfield.

The project was not without its share of challenges. During 13 months of construction, more than five feet of rain fell on the project site. Excessive rain fall resulted in nearly 60 days of construction weather delays. Additionally, construction crews had to replace 45,000 cubic yards of unsuitable soil, which is enough soil to cover a football field with a 25-foot layer. Despite these challenges, the construction crews completed this large-scale construction effort without any accidents or incidents.

The new runway is a major upgrade for Joint Base Charleston's mission capabilities and the growing Charleston community. An improved fighter aircraft arresting system is also part of the new runway, benefitting transient aircraft experiencing mechanical issues.

"The new system raises the cable from a recessed location by remote command," said Lt. Col. Pat Miller, 628th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. "This extends the life of the runway by preventing the steel cable from slapping the runway when not in use."

Joint Base Charleston hosts a dual-use airfield which is shared with the local community. Last year, Joint Base Charleston executed more than 2,700 C-17 missions and 1.29 million pasengers transited through Charleston International Airport.

The newly paved surface is 9,000-feet long and 150-feet wide and is composed of concrete that is 18-inches thick. Which is enough concrete to make a four-foot wide sidewalk spanning from Charleston, S.C. to Orlando, Fla.

Outdated lighting was replaced with high-efficiency, longer-lasting LED lighting which aids in safer flight operations. In total, 110 miles of wiring and ground cabling was installed to support the new infrastructure.

"This was a great team effort. The planning started in 2003 and the contract was signed in 2011," said Miller. "Construction began in 2012, and a year and 50 days later we now have a new runway."