Missouri's Branson Airport has filed suit against its designers and builders, alleging improper execution of the foundation and other "reckless actions" led to the 2011 collapse of a runway two years after the facility was completed.
The suit claims designer Burns & McDonnell Engineering Co., contractor McAninch Corp. and others failed to comply with regulatory and design criteria required to prevent subsidence. As a result, a large area of the foundation collapsed near the intersection of the tarmac and a 7,140-ft-long, 150-ft-wide runway, the lawsuit claims.
Foundation construction involved excavating rock and soil from ridgetops and using them in layers to fill in adjacent valleys. "McAninch deposited large amounts of organic material in the lifts of fill ... and applied lifts of fill that were too thick and not properly compacted," according to the suit.
The suit contends Burns & McDonnell "improperly designed and engineered the fill material/compaction requirements for the foundation, improperly tested and investigated subsurface conditions and improperly designed and engineered the drainage system for the foundation."
"Burns & McDonnell was not hired for any of the runway soil testing for Branson Airport," the firm said in a statement. Anderson Engineering Inc., a Clayton, Mo.-based geotechnical consultant also named in the suit, "was hired directly by the airport owner, as was the inspector for the earthwork," Burns & McDonnell stated, adding that it prepared specifications for compaction based on the owner's geotechnical report.
Regarding the organic material, "we did not act as the contractor, nor did we have contractual responsibility for inspections of the fill work for this project," the firm stated.
Airport operators and McAninch Corp. declined to comment on the suit. Anderson Engineering could not be reached for comment.