A $60 million project to revamp a taxiway and other improvements on the airfield at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field is coming into focus.
The project, which will be phased in over several years, involves extending and relocating much of Taxiway Charlie. It generally runs parallel to Runway 4L-22R, which is one of the two main commercial service runways at the state's largest airport.
The relocation of Taxiway Charlie will allow the airport to eliminate several nonstandard taxiway-runway intersections, which are high-speed taxiways angled to allow arriving aircraft to quickly exit the runway to make way for other arrivals. Federal Aviation Administration regulations require those intersections to be perpendicular, much like a standard vehicle intersection, for safety.
The project also will include eliminating easy access to two runways at a point where they almost come together on the west side of the airport. At that point, aircraft could inadvertently take off from either Runway 4L-22R or Runway 18-36, a "hot spot" that the FAA said has "a history of potential risk of collision or runway incursion."
At least two incidents in which an aircraft on the ground has encroached upon Runway 4L-22R while another aircraft -- in both instances an airliner -- had been cleared to land on the runway and had to initiate a "go-around" and abort the landing have been documented since 2012.
The change was opposed by corporate pilots whose aircraft are stored in hangars on the west side of the field as well as the FAA's air traffic controllers. Pilots told an airport consultant that the new plan will result, among other things, in more time and fuel to taxi and two midfield crossings for a Runway 4L departure. Runway 4L-22R is longer than Runway 18-36, the general-aviation runway, and, thus, often preferred.
The agency, calling runway safety a "significant challenge and a top priority," has said such "hot spots" at Clinton National and other airports will "remain charted on airport diagrams until such time the increased risk has been reduced or eliminated."
The project also includes eliminating a five-way intersection involving Taxiways Bravo, Charlie and Papa by removing a section of Taxiway Bravo east from the intersection.
Tom Clarke, the airport's properties, planning and development director, called the overall project a "significant" undertaking for the airfield.
But he and other airport officials are mindful of criticism from general-aviation tenants on the west side of the field who say they suffer from "construction fatigue."
The airport recently completed improvements to other taxiways on the west side of the airfield and is just starting a nearly $6.9 million project to rebuild a section of Taxiway Papa that runs by the west side of the Dassault Falcon Jet complex.
As a result, the Taxiway Charlie project will be broken down into several smaller projects and staged over several years to minimize disruption to aircraft traffic, Clarke said.
To that end, the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission approved a $1.4 million contract with Garver LLC, one of the airport's on-call engineering firms, to complete the design and other work, including developing a plan to stage the project.
Garver will begin work on a design that is about 30% complete, according to Clarke.
The Garver contract includes $239,600 for surveying; $59,350 for geotechnical investigations; and $1,126,141 for design. The airport anticipates that the FAA will pay for 90% of the cost with a future state grant or airport funds covering the balance.
Metro on 12/02/2019
Print Headline: $60M Little Rock airport project set to take off