A $20 million runway rehabilitation project continues at Myrtle Beach International Airport. Crews are still working on the paving portion which was supposed to be finished in mid-November but airport officials said weather problems pushed back the completion date to early December.
Crews have been working through the night when there are no flights.
But Ryan Betcher, the business development manager at the airport, said hard closure times for the paving portion of the project does have an effect on cancellations. So far, around 8 flights have been canceled since work on the runway started.
“We don’t have much leeway. The time isn’t exactly when the aircraft is scheduled to arrive, it might be 30 minutes after but at that hard closure time if the aircraft is delayed more than their allowance then we are not able to accommodate them. For the soft closure times, we have a little bit more flexibility and we always try to work with our airline partners to make sure we are able to accommodate as many flights and passengers as possible,” said Betcher.
Another element working against the crews is the cold weather. Typically paving won’t take place below 45 degrees. But Betcher said having the asphalt plant on site does help.
“It allows the Airport to shorten the transport time between the asphalt plant and the runway, providing the Airport with better control over the temperature of the asphalt. The shortened transport time also allows the Airport to use less trucks for transport, resulting in higher utilization of equipment. Also, since the asphalt plant is contained within the secure areas of the airfield, it provides an additional level of security,” said Betcher.
Construction will take a 5 night break from the project for Thanksgiving from the 25th through the 30th. Betcher said it’s a way to avoid the risk of delays or cancellations when many people travel.
“It’s going to be very busy here at the airport so we want to make sure we are able to accommodate everybody,” said Betcher.
Betcher said when the paving part of the project is complete, hard closure times will stop, giving the airport more flexibility to avoid cancellations.
The next phase of the project includes electrical work and painting the final markings on the runway. The project is scheduled to be completed in its entirety by early spring.