ENR editors frequently pick up interesting information that doesn't make it into the magazine. Transportation reporter Aileen Cho offers a few choice morsels she picked up on recent assignments. Her column will appear from time to time on enr.com. Feedback is welcome.

How Wide Was My Runway

Aileen Cho (Photo by Tom Sawyer for ENR)

Although Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport recently announced that it would not be altering its runways for the new Airbus A380’s double-decker 262-ft wingspan to touch down anytime soon, six other U.S. airports do anticipate some wide-bodied arrivals. At the Transportation Research Board conference this January, Joseph Polk, construction adminstration manager for Memphis International Airport, said it expects at least 12 daily operations by 2010. Memphis is a major hub for Fed-Ex, which has committed to buying Airbus A380 all-cargo planes.

Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration says airports must have runways with at least 250-ft widths. But some U.S. airports are contending that 200-ft widths are enough–especially considering that they’re not expecting a steady number of Airbus arrivals and departures. The standards for Group 6 aircraft also call for separation of taxiway and runway of at least 550 feet and taxiway-taxiway separations of 324 feet.

FAA airport engineer Rodney Joel noted during the session that Airbus "speculates that 150 —ft widths may be enough" to accommodate the 1.3-million-lb aircraft, at least for non-regular intervals. "Six airports in the United States may need to accommodate Airbus" in the near future, he added. Those are John F. Kennedy, Miami, San Francisco, LAX, Memphis and Anchorage.

Happy Birthday

Denver International Airport is gearing up for its 10th birthday next year, the anniversary of a project for which Ginger Evans won the Award of Excellence (ENR 2/14/94,p.28). Marred by the disastrous results of an ambitious baggage handling system then and now concerned about the possible bankruptcy of its core carrier, United Airlines, DIA nevertheless pushes on with hopes and plans. Designed for 50 million annual passengers, the airport is handling 42 million now, says Hana Rocek, assistant deputy manager for maintenance and engineering. DIA spokesman Chuck Cannon adds that since 9/11, several major construction projects worth a total of $100 million have been on hold, but DIA anticipates the possibility of low-cost carriers coming in–thus requiring more gates. The airport is currently building a $1-million expanded federal inspection facility. If and when it’s needed, it has 53 acres ready for expanding airport facilities.

While at the aforementioned TRB conference (markedly fewer sessions than in previous years), I stopped by the hospitality suite of Burgess & Niple , the Cleveland-based bridge inspection firm that develops its own cable-climbing equipment (ENR 12/6/04, p.13). From their eye-in-the-sky perspectives, members have seen suicide jumpers, African parrots on the lam from the zoo, snakes and a lot of unappealing pigeon guano. While shamelessly scarfing eggrolls from the B&N buffet, I met Frederick Gottemoeller, principal with Rosales Gottemoeller & Associates, which did conceptual design for the bascule portion of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge (ENR 1/31, p. 26). Gottemoeller has just come out with a new book, Bridgescape, which I am hoping to receive soon.

Climbing Bridges

I discovered that Burgess & Niple is not alone in the bridge-climbing specialization niche. I was contacted by Paul Braun of Eau Claire, Wisc.-based Ayres Associates, a 400-employee firm whose services include transportation engineering perfomed in Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and now Georgia. They also have mountain climbers-cum-bridge inspectors, and their portfolio includes the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Ayres developed a special rolling harness to inspect that icon’s 84 cables some 400 feet up in the air.

I’ve also spoken in the past to Michael S. Januszkiewicz of Modjeski & Masters’ Poughkeepsie, N.Y., office, for whom bridge cable climbing doesn’t really get exciting unless the winds are blowing at more than 50 mph. He’s been working on an inspection job at the 300-ft-diameter Green Bank Radio Telescope in Green Bank, W. Va., which he says is the world’s largest movable land object.  "It stands higher than the Statue of Liberty and almost as tall as the Washington Monument, but it is fully steerable: it can rotate 360 degrees and tilt over a 90-degree range," he states.