Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville NAS Runway Upgrade on Track for June; World War II Hangars, Fuel Tanks Removed during Yearlong Project

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville NAS Runway Upgrade on Track for June; World War II Hangars, Fuel Tanks Removed during Yearlong Project

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter lifted straight up from its hangar at Jacksonville Naval Air Station, then flew north over the busy runways on a recent Monday headed toward the St. Johns River.

But it isn't aircraft crowding the base's 8,000- and 6,000-foot-long main runways these days. Instead, dump trucks and backhoes are halfway through a $52 million overhaul of the 75-year-old base's fixed-wing runways between the river and Roosevelt Boulevard. A reopening is planned for June 26.

Begun June 8, the project has seen up to 100 workers and dozens of pieces of equipment tearing up old, then laying down new runways, some dating back to the 1950s. Workers even found buried 70-year-old fuel tanks.

Standing atop the air traffic control tower, Air Operations Cmdr. Stephen Polk looked down at newly laid parts of runway 10 /28 and 14 /32's huge eastern intersection as trucks carried more asphalt and concrete from on-site plants nearby.

"It's been a tremendous undertaking," Polk said. "... It did take considerable time to get down to a good sub-grade before they could build up the 15 inches of concrete. But looking at it now, we are excited and ecstatic about opening back up on time."

Along with new runways and taxiways, which measure about 200 football fields in length, comes demolition of three obsolete hangars from World War II. That clears another 1,000 feet of space to park the base's new Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft as well as those flying in from across the country to VP-30, the Navy's national P-8 training center. Military crews will also come from Thailand, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere to learn how to fly and maintain their P8As.

"I look at concrete nonstop," base airfield manager Doug Chaney joked. "... The runway has been milled and the next phase will be to put down asphalt. …

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