'On time, on budget': Runway extension project nears completion

The second phase of a $7 to $8 million runway extension at the Charlottetown Airport is preparing for its final descent.

Smaller runway being extended by 609 metres

The airport is adding more than 600 metres to the smaller of its two runways to allow repair work to be done to its main runway next year. (Charlottetown Airport Authority)

The second phase of a $7 to $8 million runway extension at the Charlottetown Airport is preparing for its final descent.

Crews have been laying asphalt this week to the smaller of the airport's two runways which is being extended 609 metres to create a 2,133 metre runway.

"It is on schedule, so we should have it in our hands in early September sometime, but after that there will be some additional work required before it's fully certified for commercial aircraft, but things are going well, on budget, on time," said Charlottetown Airport Authority CEO Doug Newson.

'We looked at a number of options'

The extension is needed because the airport will shut the main runway down and repair its surface next summer.

"That will be closed for most of the construction season from early May to November time, and 5,000 feet just isn't enough runway length for the major jet traffic that we're seeing here now at the airport authority," Newson said.

Crews lay down some of the more 8,000 tonnes of asphalt equivalent to six km of road. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"We looked at a number of options, doing night work, keeping it active while we do construction, but at the end of the day it was much more feasible for us to do this extension now."

'Much heavier than a roadway'

Chapman Brothers Construction Ltd. based in Souris, P.E.I., were hired for the massive project.

The company has been in business for over 52 years, but never been involved in anything like this before.

"This is our first airport project, but we're involved in a lot of major construction activities across the Maritimes," said Jeffrey Chapman.

The airport will use the newly-extended runway for all of its service next summer during peak tourist season. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"The general design of the structure or the runway structure is much heavier than a roadway. The pavement is meant to carry heavier loads, seeing more shock loading. It took us a few iterations to get the proper asphalt design we were happy with, but we're satisfied now that everything's gonna work."

'Pressure on our main runway'

Over 8,000 tonnes of asphalt — or the equivalent of six km of road — has been used during the project.

In all, it's taken more than 50,000 tonnes of gravel and 2,300 truck trips to the construction site in one of the largest projects ever undertaken at the airport.

Work is being completed over two construction seasons to extend the crosswind runway to 2,133 metres. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"It hasn't had any impact on our commercial traffic," Newson said.

"The only thing you might say is by having only one active runway we're not spreading the traffic around and it's putting more pressure on our main runway, but … we're going to be closing that next year for a full reconstruction."

"Long term the other benefit this provides is that we should see a bigger distribution of our traffic, so it will aircraft using both runways which should extend the life of our main runway."

The entire project is expected to cost $20 million.