Concrete for airport presents dicey issue 
for authority board

A brand new concrete pad at Grand Junction Regional Airport is strong enough that commercial jets could park on it now, but the question is whether the pad can weather the 20 years it’s expected to last.

That question is the one the airport authority will have to decide in the coming weeks.

Work on the $4.7 million project to replace the pad, which can accommodate four commercial jets, was halted Aug. 22 when samples of the concrete poured at the terminal’s east apron failed a flexural strength test — the one on which the Federal Aviation Administration relies. The FAA provided 90 percent of the funding for the project, as it does for most of the airport-improvement projects around the nation.

Mark Achen, interim airport director, said the airport authority board will have to decide whether to pull out the new concrete or gamble that the pad can last longer than the test suggests.

The airport appears to be well insulated by its contract with Denver-based Interstate Highway Construction from the cost of reworking the project, Achen said.

The airport authority will have to consider that the 28-day flexural-strength test is only one test, and concrete is known to strengthen with age, Achen noted.

On the other hand, the flexural-strength test is the one used by the FAA and the consequences could be expensive should the pad weaken too quickly.

“What we don’t want to do is go to the FAA in 10 years because there are problems with what we put down,” Achen said.

The FAA makes funding for airport-improvement projects available in cycles and missing one can mean an airport might wait years for improvement money to become available.

Interstate Highway Construction is considering new concrete mixes and is to have completed its tests by Sept. 28, airport officials wrote to the Grand Junction City Council and Mesa County Commission. The airport and its consultants will consider then how to proceed.

The previous mix met FAA standards, officials have said.

Interstate Highway Construction officials didn’t return phone calls.

The company also hopes to resume work on the concrete by Oct. 5, which would allow for completion of what was originally billed as a 150-day project in January.


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