Airport perimeter roads key to safety

Posted in: Aviation, Bridges, Construction, Highways


Howell Avenue Bridge_Construction Access and Staging ExhibitIncreased airline traffic has prompted renewed nationwide vigilance of aviation safety. Accordingly, in recent years there has been an increasing need to add more safety related features and aids on the nation’s commercial airports. One such feature is to provide and maintain a secured perimeter roadway system whereby airport support vehicles access all reaches of the airfield without the need to cross open taxiways and runways or travel on public roads.

Under a Runway Safety Action project, the General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee extended their perimeter road system. This project, designed by Mead & Hunt, incorporates a bridge that will connect the perimeter road from west to east and will provide secured access for airport vehicles and equipment. The new bridge spans the highly traveled State Highway 38 also called Howell Avenue.

Up until the construction of this project, the airport support vehicles, including firefighting and emergency equipment and large snowplows, were crossing open taxiways, runways and public roads in order to perform daily and emergency functions. Not only was this a dangerous situation for airplanes, but the public was also at risk.

The new bridge provided additional connections into the existing perimeter road of the airport. A traffic control and construction staging plan was developed to maintain two lanes of traffic in each direction during construction of the perimeter road bridge project. Also, traffic was maintained on Citation Way, an important road that provides access to private aircraft facilities, Milwaukee County facilities and GMIA facilities. Citation Way was relocated to accommodate the location of the perimeter road. The project also included extensive utility and agency coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration and Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

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When completed in 2015, this project will provide GMIA with a safe and secure perimeter road for support and emergency vehicles to cross over Howell Avenue without having to use runways and taxiways to access airport air-side facilities.

Maintained and secured perimeter roadway systems are one way airports are improving safety and vehicle access. As industry leaders, planners, designers and engineers, we should seek additional ways to place safety on the forefront of our design process.


Darrell Berry, PE, SE

About the Author

Darrell Berry, P.E., S.E., F.ASCE-Life, is senior manager with substantial project management and consulting engineering experience. He is skilled in developing and delivering successful projects within local, state and federal policies and procedures. Darrell’s background includes project management of transportation and special projects, and structural designs and inspections for highway and railroad bridges. He is well-known for his value engineering team leadership and facilitation skills, to improve the value of projects while maintaining functions, typically at a lower cost to the owner.

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