Smooth takeoffs and easy landings require airport runways that are maintained and cared for … because no pilot (or passenger) wants to hit a pothole on the taxiway.
But, keeping an airport’s pavement in good condition takes some vigilance – extreme temperatures, wear from heavy loads and age can all take their toll on pavement. Smaller, publicly owned airports in the state might not have the budget, or the manpower, to handle needed repairs.
That’s where the Arizona Airport Pavement Management System steps in …
ADOT’s Aeronautics Group, part of the Multimodal Planning Division, runs the program that evaluates pavement conditions of airports in the state and helps fund maintenance and restoration projects. The APMS got its start in 2000 to help monitor the conditions of Arizona ’s airport system (a multi-million dollar investment of public and private funds) and assist in the preservation of its infrastructure.
How it works …
Every three years ADOT’s Aeronautics Group facilitates the survey of all 52 publicly owned/public use airports that participate in the state’s pavement management program. The pavement is inspected at each of the airports to determine the conditions of the runways, taxiways, T-hangars, aprons and helipads.
To give you an idea of how much pavement we’re talking about, according to the most recent Arizona Airport Pavement Management System Update, 140.3 million square feet of pavement was inspected in 2010 – that’s the equivalent of a two-lane highway stretching from Phoenix to Seattle, Washington!
Each airport is given a “score” called a Pavement Condition Index. That PCI number ranges from 0-100 and can mean major rehabilitation is needed or just some routine maintenance.
From there, that information is put into a database. Each airport gets a copy of all the information, including airport histories, maps, photos, tutorial information for the airports regarding PCI methods, maintenance planning and documentation.
Not only does this information help the airport’s staff take some next steps, but it also satisfies a public law that states any airport receiving any federal funding has to have a pavement maintenance program in place (this is a requirement for state grants, too).
ADOT’s Aeronautics Group looks at all the recommended projects from the survey and prioritizes them into a 5-8 year plan.
Then the work gets started!
ADOT’s Aeronautics Group hires a consultant for design and construction management for the top priority projects. Next, ADOT’s procurement office advertises the project for construction bids.
Airports only pay 10 percent of the construction costs and the Aeronautics Group funds the rest. (For a little more information on how the state aviation fund works, check out this blog post
State Airport Engineer Holly Hawkins says the program helps airports maintain their investment and having a consistent program that allows all the data to be gathered in one place, really helps with funding decisions, too.
Historically, this program has used about $3-4 million for pavement preservation projects each year, but ADOT's Aeronautics Manager Michael Klein says this fiscal year that number could increase to about $7-8 million. The funding increase is attributed to the program's recent hiatus due to budget cuts. Klein says there is some catching up to do.
National recognition …
The program recently earned significant recognition from the National Association of State Aviation Officials
. The APMS earned the 2011 Most Innovative State Program Award earlier this month. According to the NASAO newsletter, the award was established to recognize truly unique and service-oriented state aviation programs.
It was also noted that, “the statewide system focus allows consistent application, economy of scale and maximum efficiency in evaluation, recommendations, design and programming.”
Klein says the award reflects the effort of the department…
“It’s just recognition for a lot of hard work from folks here,” Klein said.