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HNTB Runway Rehabilitation at Van Nuys Airport a Model for Stakeholder Involvement and Innovative Phasing

September 3, 2013 Airport No Comments Email Email

HNTB Corporation, one of the nation’s leading infrastructure solutions and program delivery firms, has successfully completed rehabilitation of Van Nuys Airport’s (VNY) 8,000-foot primary runway (16R) with one of the most aggressively phased runway maintenance projects ever conducted at a general aviation airfield.

The $20.5 million, seven-month improvement project posed a major operational challenge – lack of a secondary runway to handle the majority of jet operations during construction at one of the world’s busiest business airports. HNTB’s optimal solution provided a unique design, varying pavement sections and creative phasing.

“During project design, HNTB engineers worked directly with Van Nuys Airport tenants on a 001HotelStylish250x250solution to minimize the number of days the runway would be closed or shortened,” said Laddie Irion, HNTB senior vice president and national aviation market sector leader. “Collaborating with key stakeholders early in the process enabled us to develop a mutually beneficial solution and successfully execute the project. This approach is a model for airports across the nation on how to design maintenance projects with minimal disruptions to airport operations.”

Commencing in February 2012, a combination of asphalt overlay and partial reconstruction was conducted in four phases over the runway’s north, south and center sections. A potential runway closure of up to 17 weeks for complete reconstruction was reduced to just 10 days and 26 nights for rehabilitation work. Through careful planning, the runway was shortened for 65 days to a minimum length of 5,000 feet, accommodating VNY’s entire aircraft fleet for departures and landings. Unique challenges and strict time requirements for HNTB project engineers included:

  • An accelerated three-month timeframe to move the project from 30 percent to 100 percent design following nine months of stakeholder collaboration;
  • Two four-night closure periods during which a temporary blast fence was constructed with materials recycled from the demolished blast fence, pilot visual aids were repositioned, and the runway was reconfigured and shortened;
  • Positioning of the temporary blast fence to protect contractors from jet blast and allow continued aircraft operations during construction activities; and
  • Managing almost daily discoveries of utilities hidden underground and performing significant soil remediation during excavation work.

“We’d like to acknowledge Van Nuys Airport’s management, project team and tenants for their ongoing expertise and collaboration throughout this project,” Irion said. “They did an amazing job supporting our work and deserve much of the credit for our success.”

HNTB’s Southern California aviation work includes engineering and design services for airfield infrastructure, runway, apron and taxiway projects at Los Angeles International Airport, including overall architectural design services as associated architect for the Tom Bradley International Terminal, Bradley West project. The firm also designed the “Green Build” expansion at San Diego International Airport and has completed signature projects at leading commercial, general aviation and military airfields. Many of the planners, architects and engineers on its aviation team are pilots, heightening the firm’s aviation expertise.

HNTB Corporation is an employee-owned infrastructure solutions firm serving public and private owners and construction contractors. With nearly a century of service in the U.S., HNTB’s work in California dates back to its founding in 1914. Today HNTB continues to grow in size and service offerings to clients from nine office locations, currently employing more than 350 full-time professionals. HNTB understands the life cycle of infrastructure and addresses clients’ most complex technical, financial and operational challenges. Professionals nationwide deliver a full range of infrastructure-related services, including award-winning planning, design, program delivery and construction management. For more information, visit

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