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Nome Airport to Remain Open to Air Traffic During Two-Year Runway Project

Nome airport runway construction equipment. Photo by Sean Milligan, KNOM. 7-21.

The ongoing construction at Nome Airport is only the first stage of an effort to rehabilitate both runways by October 2022. Despite the scope of the project, however, officials say construction is not expected to interfere with normal airport operations.

Neil Strandberg, the Project Manager, says that while there have been various construction projects at Nome Airport over the past several years, work at the scale of this current project hasn’t been performed in quite some time.

“This is really one of the first ones in my recollection that addressed full reconditioning of the pavement… it’s the full enchilada.”

– Neil Strandberg, Project Manager, Nome Airport Rehabilitation Project

The darker sections of runway that can be seen in a satellite photo of the airport, below, are evidence of past patch repairs to the runway, but Strandberg confirms that once the current project reaches completion next year, the result will be “one uniform paved airport.”

A satellite view of Nome Airport. Image from Google Maps.

Currently the project is still in its initial phase, which is focused on repaving the crosswind runway. As of July 7, the old asphalt has been excavated, and crews are preparing to lay down a base layer which will provide a foundation for the actual pavement that will form the tarmac.

The original contract amount for the project is $27,921,522 according to the Alaska Department of Transportation project story map. According to Caitlin Frye with the Alaska Department of Transportation, 90% of the money is coming from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program, with a 10% state match.

As with the ongoing Bering Street rehabilitation that KNOM reported on last month, the work at Nome Airport is being handled by Knik Construction.

The next phase of the airport project, scheduled to begin in early-to-mid-August, will be focused on the runway intersection. During this time, only the crosswind runway will be in use, at half its total width. Because it’s not possible for crews to work on the intersection while the airport is open, that work will be completed at night.

“The plans allow for nighttime closures to do the intersection work. But it’s open during the daytime hours during all phases of the work.”

– Neil Strandberg

Along with the work being done on the runway itself, new runway lighting will also be installed this year.

Nome’s Airport Manager, Darrin Otton, emphasizes this next phase of work won’t impact passenger flights or delay cargo shipments arriving or departing locally

“We’re not really affected by any other weather or anything… The runway that’s open right now has instrument landing approaches.”

– Darrin Otton, Airport Manager, Nome Airport

Work for this year’s portion of the airport project is currently scheduled to conclude in late September. 

Once this year’s work on the crosswind runway and the intersection is complete, next year’s work will be focused on the main runway, in particular the west end, where significant dips have formed.

“Much of the runway embankment is going to be supported with concrete pile caps about three feet wide, and then geotextile stabilization and reinforcement material is going to be used to reinforce the earthwork constructed above the piles… So, major improvement for that particular area of the runway, which has a fairly steep maintenance requirement.”

– Neil Strandberg

Strandberg explains that these issues are largely due to ice and groundwater migration, and that the planned work should provide a long-term solution to the problem.

Image at top: Nome airport runway construction equipment. Photo by Sean Milligan, KNOM. 7/21.

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