The Port of Seattle is currently reconstructing the Center Runway (16C/34C) at Sea-Tac (SEA). The project started at May 4th, 2015 and is scheduled to be completed on October 30th, 2015. Today I was able to tour the project and see the progress of the runway reconstruction. Some quick facts about the center runway.
- Built in 1969
- 9,426 feet long (the longest runway 16L/34R is 11,901 feet long)
The concrete of the existing runway will be crushed and used as a sub-base for the new runway, also the asphalt from the old runway will be recycled and re-used in the new asphalt layer of the runway.
Once complete, the new runway will consist of 3 main layers:
- 8 inches of crushed rock sub-base
- four inches of asphalt
- 18 inches of Portland cement concrete
The project is set out in phases, which will minimize the impact on air traffic during the closure of the center runway. It also helps to manage accessible taxiways to get from the outer runway to the terminals during the whole construction period.
With nearly 1.000 flights a day, Sea-Tac is the 13th busiest U.S. airport, serving nearly 37.5 million passengers and more than 327,000 metric tons of air cargo.
Some of the taxiways will be rebuilt and the shoulders will be widened. Once this is done the runway will feature a new LED lighting system and an automated electronic Foreign Object Debris (FOD) detection system. This makes Sea-Tac the second airport in the U.S. with such an advanced FOD and there are currently only a handful airports worldwide with this system installed.
During the tour we stopped in front of an open taxiway to get some close-up pictures of planes, crossing the center runway and construction site, heading to the gate.
This is a once in a lifetime chance. Once the runway is reconstructed, the next reconstruction will be in about 40 years from now. With completion of the project all three runways will have been built or reconstructed within the last seven years.