Runway shared at Charleston reopening

(Jon Bruce/WCIV)

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV/AP) - A yearlong project to rebuild the main runway shared by Joint Base Charleston and the Charleston International Airport is finished.

A dedication ceremony was held Wednesday following completion of the $40 million job of rebuilding the 50-year-old runway. Construction on the newly renovated runway took about a year.

The newly constructed runway is 9,000 feet long, 150-feet wide and 18 inches thick. Crews installed new LED lighting systems and both Joint Base Charleston and Charleston International to help guide pilots safely down the runway. The lighting system will cut down on energy and maintenance costs.

At nearly 50 years old, military and civilian leaders thought it was time for a facelift.

"Operationally, it returns us to the capability we had before we started construction, but it extends that capability out 50 years," said Col. Matthew Leard with the 437th Operations Support Squadron.

But the runway won't just be a track for C-17s. Civilian and commercial traffic will also have the opportunity to touch down on the new runway. It's something Charleston County Aviation Authority chair Andy Savage says could provide a boost in air traffic.

"The ability for our commercial and private flyers and aircraft to use this facility that is top notch is very unique and it benefits the flying public in the Lowcountry," he said.

Before the work, the runway had been kept in service by spot repairs. But the runway was beyond its planned service life and had to be rebuilt.

But now 90,000 tons of recycled concrete from the old runway allowed crews to install the new surface and safety equipment as well as add shoulders to ensure the pilots can fly in any weather.

"The 9,000 foot runway definitely gives us a little extra space as far as length goes, which is great if there is concerns of distressed aircraft or wet runways," said Lt. Col. Patrick Miller with the 628th Air Base Wing Civil Engineers. "Recently we've had some afternoon thunderstorms. It's nice to get back to where we can fly the precision approaches that we're used to."

Once the FAA inspection is complete, which should happen in the next few days, the new runway will be ready to carry military, private and commercial aircraft into the blue.

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