Dover Air Force Base runway gets recycled

Crushed concrete from the Dover Air Force Base runway renovation project sits in separated piles on Perimeter Road by Del. 1 last week. (Submitted photo by U.S. Air Force)

Crushed concrete from the Dover Air Force Base runway renovation project sits in separated piles on Perimeter Road by Del. 1 last week. (Submitted photo by U.S. Air Force)

DOVER — Heading north or south on Del. 1, there’s no missing the mountain of rubble at the southwest end of Dover Air Force Base.

The 30-foot-high mass is concrete removed as existing runway 01-19 is demolished in the opening phase of a $98.3 million repair project.

Since early March, the main base runway steadily has been demolished by a large jackhammer attached to an excavator, with a huge weight dropped to the concrete to crack the surface. The rubble is then trucked away to be further pulverized.

When the excavator removes the concrete, the rubble is loaded onto trucks that transport the material to the pile about a quarter mile away.

Contractor Versar Inc. uses a concrete crusher that creates an aggregate product that can be put into various foundations, concrete and asphalt mixes, DAFB officials said.

Pieces of concrete from the runway renovation project are crushed and separated by construction crews on Thursday at Dover Air Force Base. The separated pieces of concrete and rock are piled up near the southwest area of Perimeter Road and are visible to passing motorist on Del. 1. (Submitted photo by U.S. Air Force)

Pieces of concrete from the runway renovation project are crushed and separated by construction crews on Thursday at Dover Air Force Base. The separated pieces of concrete and rock are piled up near the southwest area of Perimeter Road and are visible to passing motorist on Del. 1. (Submitted photo by U.S. Air Force)

“We’re all for recycling; I’m guessing there’s a market for (the crushed material),” DAFB Engineering Flight Chief for the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron John Sclesky said Thursday.

The recycling is conducted in the runway shoulders and overrun area, Mr. Sclesky said, and causes no safety problems for ongoing operations. Concrete demolition will occur in each phase of the project, expected to be completed in June 2016.

The large rubble pile has drawn attention inside and outside the base, Mr. Sclesky said.

“I think there’s a lot of curiosity when such a massive amount of concrete is so visible,” he said. “We don’t hear anything from the public, but those questions would go to (DAFB’s) public affairs office.

“Local people on the base see it and go, ‘Wow, this really is quite a project’ and then the questions start coming.

There’s clearly some excitement about it now that it is underway and they can actually see results from it.

“I tell them that the project is going fine …”

Since Feb. 2, north-south runway 01-19 has been closed for renovation. The runway is 200 feet wide and 9,600 feet long.

The base’s other runway, 14-32, is still fully operational.

The current phase will run until December, Mr. Sclesky said. The overall project is designed to replace the aging runway — in service since the 1940s — that’s been showing significant stress since 2005.

Regular patch work to address cracking and potting issues was deemed too costly and time-consuming, Air Force officials said. So that prompted the complete rebuild.

The second phase of the project will shorten the operational runway 14-32 from 12,900 to 6,000 feet for approaches from June to December. At that time, most of most of Dover’s C-5 operations will move to Joint Base McGuire-Dix in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

C-17s still can use Dover’s shorter runway with proper load capacity that is not maxed out, officials said.

A C-17A Globemaster III takes off on runway 14-32 near mid-field as contractors remove asphalt from runway 01-19 in early March at Dover Air Force Base. The length of runway 14-32 will be cut from 12,900 feet to 6,000 feet. (Submitted photo by U.S. Air Force)

A C-17A Globemaster III takes off on runway 14-32 near mid-field as contractors remove asphalt from runway 01-19 in early March at Dover Air Force Base. The length of runway 14-32 will be cut from 12,900 feet to 6,000 feet. (Submitted photo by U.S. Air Force)

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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