Runway safety improvements soar to heights of engineering excellence

March 21, 2016


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The airfield safety improvement projects at General Mitchell International Airport earned an Engineering Excellence Award from ACEC Wisconsin.  Mead & Hunt provided design and project management and served as the owner’s representative during construction. Awards are presented to entries demonstrating a high degree of client satisfaction through quality, cost-effective solutions.

This was a complex, multi-phased project that included a feasibility study, an environmental assessment, and the design of multiple bid packages and construction administration services. Phasing the project over multiple years for construction resulted in minimal disruptions to air and ground traffic and made the best use of incremental Federal Aviation Administration funding, all resulting in enhanced safety at the airport.

GMIA, Wisconsin’s largest targeted airport, had more than 3.2 million enplanements last year. Following a national directive to have runway safety areas meet federal standards by 2015, the FAA identified non-compliant safety areas for three of GMIA’s runways because roads and a railroad encroached into them.

(l-r) Greg Stern, Mead & Hunt Project Manager; Karl Stave, Milwaukee County Dept. of Administrative Services, Resident Contracting Manager; Jim Zsebe General Mitchell International Airport, Airport Engineer; Laura Morland, Mead & Hunt Environmental Practice Leader; and Darrell Berry, Mead & Hunt Project Manager
(l-r) Greg Stern, Mead & Hunt Project Manager; Karl Stave, Milwaukee County Dept. of Administrative Services, Resident Contracting Manager; Jim Zsebe General Mitchell International Airport, Airport Engineer; Laura Morland, Mead & Hunt Environmental Practice Leader; and Darrell Berry, Mead & Hunt Project Manager

Ground transportation projects included the realignment of 6th Street, the College Avenue bypass road, the College Avenue tunnel construction, and completion of the airport perimeter road system that included bridge structures over both Howell and College Avenue. The improvements altered all four ends of GMIA’s two longest runways. Challenges included reducing environmental impacts and construction effects to the airport users and local roadway users. Another significant challenge dealt with designing various project alternatives to allow for the greatest flexibility and most economical use of funding within schedule limitations.

Mead & Hunt worked with GMIA staff on public outreach efforts throughout the project. The meetings and mailings raised awareness among the community and other stakeholders. Engineering students and faculty from Marquette University toured the project several times to observe the unique challenges of airport design and construction.

READ MORE about this project on our website