New Concrete Runway in New York

John F Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York is the busiest airport in the United States of America. A recent upgrade of its runways saw the old asphalt runway replaced with a new concrete runway.

With the airport handling over 50 million passengers per year, seventy airlines flying non-stop to all six inhabited continents and only four runways to handle that burden, JFK International Airport needed a reliable runway surface that performs relentlessly - and that relentless performance was found in concrete.  

Busy international runways cannot afford the luxury of multiple and frequent downtime periods for maintenance during their life. They have to perform and continually deliver a safe all weather landing surface free from deterioration, rutting and potholes. When the rubber hits the pavement it’s concrete that uniquely provides that trouble free reliability. With a life span of at least forty years, concrete is the hardest wearing and most reliable aviation surface known to mankind.

The challenge to replace a runway in a busy working airport is a daunting task for any airfield contractor, but with careful planning concrete provided the solution. 

The new concrete runway is 3,682 metres long by 61 metres wide with a concrete thickness of 450 mm requiring 100,000 cubic metres of concrete. It is situated on the Eastern side of JFK and is known as 4L-22R (runways by international convention are named according to their compass direction and position, long hand it’s: 40 degrees Left - 220 degrees Right, meaning its alignment is North East to South West).

The pavement was designed by the airport owner The Port of New York and New Jersey Authority and constructed by contractor Tutor Perini Civil Construction with concrete paving equipment supplied by the Gomaco Corporation.  

Through the use of a concrete runway, the Port Authority expects reduced maintenance expenditure will deliver the lowest life cycle cost. On a previous similar concrete runway at the same airport (runway 13R-31L) they estimated a comparative saving of $US500 million over 40 years in pavement cost and importantly a reduction in flight delays of 10,500 hours per year for their flying customers – making concrete runways a clear winner.

The project consisted of three stages to optimise runway availability to operating aviation and consisted of the following items: lengthening the runway by 222 metres, widening it from 45 metres to 61 metres and the addition of high speed taxiways to accommodate larger aircraft and more efficient ground movement. A dedicated site based concrete plant was established for the project. Construction began in July 2014 and was completed on 28th September 2015: three months ahead of schedule.

For airport runways concrete is the clear choice, offering low maintenance, less runway downtime, the lowest life cycle cost and construction delivered three months ahead of schedule.  In the aviation industry where performance and reliability are essential concrete is the answer.

Project Details
Principal Authority: The Port of New York and New Jersey Authority
Construction Contractor: Tutor Perini Civil Construction, New York
Concrete Paving Equipment: Gomaco Corporation
Completion Date: 28th September 2015