Holes surface in Lafayette Airport runway

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LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Lafayette Regional Airport officials are investigating how to fix 500 dime-sized holes that developed in the main runway after a $6 million asphalt resurfacing project.

Airport Commission Chairman Matt Cruse said the runway is safe.

“It’s not coming apart. There’s no loose particles on the runway,” Cruse told The Daily Advertiser (http://bit.ly/1giOs6E). “It’s more of an issue with longevity.”

Cruse said the runway resurfacing was designed to last 20 years. With holes developing before the project is officially complete, he says the lifespan of the runway will probably be less than that.

Diamond B Construction was awarded the contract to resurface the runway with asphalt after submitting a low bid of $6.1 million. Construction began in late 2012 and the company reported construction complete in November, according to a Dec. 30 memo from airport consultants URS.

But URS representatives found the holes and organic matter in the runway asphalt during a November inspection. The airport is withholding final approval and a final payment until the problem is resolved.

“If there are problems with the quality of the asphalt, then they need to be addressed immediately, before we pay the contractor for the rest of the contract,” Cruse said.

The Federal Aviation Administration told airport officials they see the problem often, but the federal agency does not get involved, he said.

Cruse said it’s not unusual when dealing with a large batch of asphalt for quality issues to surface. Asphalt is inherently a dirty product made of oil and rock that sometimes is contaminated with dirt and clay. In this case, the asphalt was tested as the contractor laid the asphalt and no problems were found, he said.

In a Dec. 11 email, Diamond B representatives recommended coring out the holes and backfilling and compacting the affected areas, according to the Dec. 30 URS memo. The airport is looking into that technology, specifically to see if the manufacturer can guarantee the methodology and its applicability to an airport runway, Cruse said.

“Worst-case scenario, if we can’t come up with a method to address the issue, would be to redo the whole runway,” he said. “We don’t think it’s that severe.”

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Information from: The Advertiser, http://www.theadvertiser.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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