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Runway 28L Reconstruction Reaches Halfway Point Ahead of Schedule

Crews complete first section 48 hours ahead of schedule; transition to second phase begins Friday

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) announced that it will reach the halfway point of the Runway 28L Reconstruction project 48 hours ahead of schedule. On the evening of Friday, September 13th, crews will transition from the first phase, where Runway 28L intersects with Runway 1R, to the second phase, where Runway 28L intersects with Runway 1L. This transition will be complete by the morning of Saturday, September 14th, at which time Runway 1R will reopen for aircraft use. This transition was originally scheduled to occur on Monday, September 16th.

Since the closure began at 12:01am on Saturday, September 7th, crews have been working continuously 24 hours per day. Because the previous base layer dates back to the early 1960s, the project team built time into the schedule to allow for unknown conditions below the base layer, which would have required additional digging and material installation. These contingencies were not required, as the soil below was found to be stable, allowing crews to move immediately to the installation of a new base layer.

The transition to the second phase of the project is expected to improve the efficiency of the two runways which remain open for arrivals and departures. Runway 1R, expected to open on Saturday morning, is 1,000 feet longer than 1L, allowing more aircraft to use this for takeoff. This in turn is expected to allow Runway 28R to handle more arriving flights than during the first phase of construction.

Flight delays during the first phase were hampered by high winds, which led to more aircraft using 28R for takeoff as well as landing. Although wind conditions are expected to improve, SFO still advises travelers to continue to expect delays and potential cancellations, and recommends that travelers contact their airline directly for updates.

As with the first phase, SFO recommends that travelers opt for early morning flights before 9:00 a.m. PDT during this period, as delays are expected to begin after 9:00 a.m. PDT each day during the closure, and continue for the remainder of the day. Both domestic and international flights may be affected by this activity, with short-haul flights being most affected.

The total length of Runway 28L is 11,381 feet. The project will reconstruct a 1,900-foot section of Runway 28L, replace lighting and drainage infrastructure, and overlay a 600-foot section of Runway 1L.

SFO repaved the entire top layer of Runway 28L in spring 2017. During this project, core sampling and ground-penetrating radar indicated that the base layer was showing signs of fatigue cracking due to the large amount of aircraft activity in this area. This issue required additional investigation and engineering that could not be addressed at that time. SFO staff have evaluated multiple options and concluded that the best long-term solution is to excavate the section of Runway 28L at the intersection of Runway 1L and 1R to reconstruct the pavement structure, comprised of a cementitious aggregate base and a top asphalt surface.

With input from airlines at SFO, the project team selected the period of September 7-27, 2019, for the closure to avoid the busy summer and year-end holiday travel seasons. This timeframe was also chosen for the low probability of precipitation, as dry weather is necessary for asphalt paving.

The contract for the Runway 28L Reconstruction project was awarded to Golden Gate Constructors. The project is federally-funded, and the total project cost expected to be $16.2 million.