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Runway resurfaced with asphalt rubber

Post Independent Photo/Jim Noelker
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The new resurfaced runway at Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport is a retread, so to speak, but that’s just fine with pilots.

The 3,300-foot runway, made with asphalt rubber that contains 3,000 discarded tires, will give pilots smoother landings.

It will also remain an inky black longer than the grayish asphalt runway that now serves the airport.



“With the white stripes, it helps pilot’s depth perception,” said T.K. Gwin, a state aeronautics engineer who observed the resurfacing operation Friday morning.

Local pilot David Brown was also on hand to watch smelly asphalt trucks lay down the new surface.



“We have a lot of transient pilots, and the old runway is sometimes hard to spot if you don’t know where it is,” Brown said. “Now, pilots will be able to see it from a distance.”

Gwin and Brown were two of a small gaggle of aviation, airport and Glenwood Springs representatives who turned out to watch the groundbreaking runway project.

“This runway will be quieter,” said Caroline Scott, a grants administrator with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

“And pilots can stop better in the rain,” added Dick Weinberg, Glenwood Springs Airport manager.

Gwin said the Glenwood Springs Airport is Colorado’s first municipal airport to install a runway made of ground up tires.

“Arizona has been doing this for 20 years,” Gwin said.

At Friday’s resurfacing, five large bags held the 3,000 discarded tires, chopped into grains about twice the size of kitty litter. The chopped up tires were then dumped into a mobile asphalt batch plant that was set up at the north end of the runway.

Gwin said the asphalt/tire mix is different from the rubberized asphalt the Garfield County Road and Bridge Department used in a failed experiment on County Road 100 several years ago.

“That was `rubberized asphalt,'” Gwin said. “This is `asphalt rubber.'”

With asphalt rubber, the tires are cooked into the asphalt cement mixture, which becomes a hot, thick, liquid mass.

“This technology has been proven,” Gwin said.

Gwin said the runway resurfacing cost about $150,000, and the new black topcoat should last five years before maintenance is required. Its lifetime is estimated at 10 years.

Gwin said if the Glenwood Springs runway proves successful, and he expects it will, CDOT will help fund similar runway resurfacings at 50 other airports around the state.

The Glenwood Springs Airport runway project was funded by CDOT, the city of Glenwood Springs, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gwin said.

Glenwood Springs planner Jill Peterson said the city applied for state and federal grants to resurface the runway last September. The state suggested the city use the tire mix as an experiment to help judge its suitability in Colorado.

The airport will be closed Monday for painting, according to Weinberg.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

lburton@postindependent.com


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