“Grateful.” That was the reaction of Lester Robinson, chief executive officer for the Wayne County Airport Authority, upon receiving news this May of $15 million in stimulus funds for a crucial rehabilitation of a crosswinds runway in Detroit.

Detroit, Mich.
Detroit, Mich.
Reconstruction of crosswinds runway in Detroit will now be complete this year.
Photo: WCAA
Reconstruction of crosswinds runway in Detroit will now be complete this year.

Five months later, Ajax Paving Industries Inc., Troy, Mich., is about 80% complete on the $34-million reconstruction of a 8,700-ft-long runway at Detroit Metro Airport. “The stimulus allowed us to accelerate construction to complete the runway in one construction season versus two,” says Steven T. Wiesner, senior project manager for the airport authority. “We would not have received enough money in one year to do so otherwise.”

Runway 9L/27R Reconstruction
Jobs Accelerated 225
ARRA Contract Amount $15 Million
Actual Contract Value $62 Million

The 9L/27R runway is one of two used for landings in bad weather. It had to be closed down last year after a freeze-thaw cycle “blew off some pavement,” says Wiesner. Construction is complicated by the fact that it crosses three other active runways, so rebuilding it in one season instead of two reduces shutdowns and delaysfor airlines, he adds.

The aid also means the creation of about 225 construction-related jobs this year, according to the airport. The jobs mainly are for operators, truck drivers and support personnel.

The new pavement consists of 26 in. of aggregate base, 6 in. of permeable asphalt and 18 in. of concrete. The new runway is 150 ft wide, which is narrower than the 200-ft-wide old runway. This design reduces maintenance costs but still complies with Federal Aviation Administration safety standards.

Thanks to the stimulus and two other grants, Ajax won a contract with a total value of $62 million. The contract includes repaving of associated taxiways, says project manager Yvonne Kur.