Tucson International Airport Runway Construction Reaches a Milestone

Contractors have wrapped up repaving the 10,996-foot main commercial runway at Tucson International Airport this weekend so aircraft are once again be able to use the full length of the runway.

Since early October, construction contractors have been working in phases on the runway, which among other things, has required more extensive use of the airport’s alternate and shorter cross-wind runway.

Tucson Airport Authority engineers had worked for more than a year with stakeholders, including the airlines, the Arizona Air National Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration to carefully coordinate construction of the $19 million project so that disruptions to airline passengers and pilots of all aircraft were kept to a minimum. Despite those efforts, unexpected construction issues did cause disruptions, including an outage to the lights on the alternate runway the night of November 3.

From about 7:40 to 9:50 that night, airline flights were diverted or delayed until construction crews could be cleared from the main runway and sweep it to reopen the airport to aircraft. The electrical malfunction on the alternate runway was repaired the next day.

During the current phase of construction, most airline flights have used the alternate runway which requires a different flight path for arriving and departing aircraft.

Although there are other reasons, including safety and weather, that require the use of the alternate runway, most flights will once again be able to return to using the full 10,996-foot runway early next week.

The contractor will take a break over the Thanksgiving holiday and then return to work on ancillary pieces of the project.  That work will be nighttime only work so there will still be some use of the crosswind runway for landing aircraft at night.  This will continue through mid-December when the project will be completed.

For the future, the TAA is well underway preparing for a major airfield safety enhancement program that will include a parallel main runway and taxiway reconfigurations. Completion of that project will allow for one runway to remain operational when there are issues with the other runway. The $180 million safety enhancement program is in environmental impact statement phase.