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Sun, Oct. 25

Runway paving project progresses smoothly

Combs Construction, based in Glendale, came to Williams May 12, equipped to make short order of completing airport runway improvements.

“It was very impressive to watch this project come together,” said Charlie Bassett, airport manager. “All the equipment, all the crews — it just ran so smoothly.

“There were belly dumps from as far away as Mesa and as close as Williams and Flagstaff.”

Within five days, the old runway was crack sealed, a three-inch overlay put down, new taxiway and blaster pads constructed and striping completed.

“The ongoing runway modification project at H.A. Clark Memorial Airfield got back into full swing on Friday morning, May 11, and what a show it was,” Bassett said. “Combs, in conjunction with Phoenix-based Stantec Engineering, began moving men and equipment into Williams Thursday afternoon.

“At 8 a.m. the next morning, lay-down machines, rollers and graders were ready for asphalt.”

He said as many as 26 belly dumps began hauling material from the batch plant in Flagstaff.

“With the runway illuminated throughout the night by portable light standards, the project continued 36 hours straight,” Bassett said. “It was shut down May 13 at approximately 9 p.m. due to heavy rains, but by the next morning, the trucks were back rolling with the final loads laid down late that afternoon.”

The next two days entailed manicuring runway safety areas, testing electrical circuits and adding striping. After inspection, the runway reopened at 5 p.m. May 16.

In July, Williams City Council awarded Combs a base bid of $2,789,912 to cover widening the runway from 75 to 100 feet, safety area enhancements, taxiway guidance signs, wildlife fence, runway strengthening, connector taxiway and improving the line of sight.

The hump of rock mass under the runway, which impeded line of sight for small aircraft, had to be blasted prior to being removed.

This phase of construction began Sept. 11. Although these improvements were originally scheduled for completion in December, weather delays made it necessary for Combs to halt construction last winter prior to putting down a three-inch asphalt overlay.

“Because of continuous snowstorms and moisture, the project was put on hold in mid-November,” Bassett said. “This overlay increased the weight-bearing capability of the runway to accommodate increased landing activity and larger aircraft.”

Funding for airport improvements came primarily from Federal Aviation Administration and Arizona Department of Transportation Aero-nautical Division grants.

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