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11:20 AM Mon, Dec. 10th

Filling in the cracks: Ramp, dross site work happening at Kingman Airport

The routine-maintenance filling of cracks was scheduled to begin Monday, but was postponed due to weather.

The routine-maintenance filling of cracks was scheduled to begin Monday, but was postponed due to weather.

KINGMAN – Two projects are underway at Kingman Airport, one of which is seen as routine maintenance while the other is the result of a decade-long development underneath airport asphalt.

Bob Riley, director of economic development at Kingman Airport Authority, said cracks along an airport’s ramp is an issue that all airports must address. The ramp, in laymen’s terms, is more or less a parking area for aircraft. He explained that the cracks are primarily along seams where the asphalt was put down.

“When the asphalt machine goes down and lays the asphalt, their doing it at a 12-foot width,” Riley said. “So when you abut those 12-foot sections the seams are the weakest points.”

This year crack-fill on the ramp was included in the budget. After bids came back in November, the work was awarded to Cactus Asphalt out of Tolleson for approximately $90,000. Riley described crack-fill as a routine maintenance operation that should be sent to bid annually.

“We’ve taken criticism because we haven’t done it in a couple years, and rightfully so,” he said. “It is something that should be bid on a regular basis.”

Riley said budgeting is the reason filling hasn’t been done in recent years, and that the authority had considered buying equipment to do the work themselves.

“But quite frankly, the scope of work exceeds our capabilities,” he said.

The work was scheduled to begin Monday, but was postponed for a week because of rainy conditions. Once work begins, it is expected to last about two weeks.

“Part of the problem with getting the dirt wet in the cracks is when you lay the asphalt material you don’t get a proper seal,” Riley said “The asphalt material is coming in at a higher temperature and it’s hitting the water and it’s bubbling, not bonding.”

Approximately 50 aircraft will need to be moved while the work is done. Riley said the plan is to begin in the center of the ramp where no aircraft are currently parked. Work will then continue onto either the north or south portion of the ramp, depending on weather conditions and the rate at which work is progressing.

An issue not all airports must address, however, is a dross site courtesy of some 6,000 military aircraft being smelted at the airport after WWII. Dross is the waste from that smelting process and is located under the area where the smelting occurred. That area has since become one of the parking zones for aircraft.

“The Army Corps of Engineers came in and remediated the dross issue, and they remediated the issue by digging up the dross area and blending the dross material throughout the area,” Riley said. “They basically took a 13-acre area and made it a 16-acre area with this blended material.”

During remediation, lime was installed in the soil to help with stabilization. Over the years water has leached through to the lime, which reacted with the dross and in turn created gases. Those gases are now pushing up asphalt in the area.

“We’ve gone through 12-14 years of discussion with the Army Corps of Engineers to remediate the remediation,” Riley said. “They determined that wasn’t going to happen and that we’d have to adjudicate the issue through the Department of Justice. Basically, a lawsuit.”

That action yielded a settlement of approximately $30-35 million, according to Riley, and was brought by KAA and the City of Kingman. Now work has begun.

The first phase of work is underway and consists of taking core samples to determine high concentrations of dross materials.

“That study has gone through the Department of Justice and the Department of Environmental Quality,” Riley said. “That study is being presented to a number of landfills to determine where some of these materials could go.”

The next phase will determine the volume of the materials that will need to be removed and taken to landfills. While the first samples were done at random locations, the second phase’s core samples will be taken based off a grid.