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Calgary airport west runway construction gets underway with new, costly budget

Construction has started on phase one of the Calgary Airport’s West Runway Rehabilitation project costing an estimated $201 million.

The Calgary Airport Authority broke ground on Thursday on the 85-year-old runway, marking a “crucial step in ensuring the operational stability and safety of YYC Calgary International Airport.”

“The runway is nearing the end of its useful life,” said Chris Miles, chief operating officer of the authority.

“That requires a comprehensive rehabilitation to ensure a safe and efficient operation and that is precisely what this operation will deliver.”

Large crack on Calgary airport runway. Tomasia DaSilva

Project funding and budget

The massive rehabilitation project, expected to wrap up in two years, was originally estimated to cost $115 million, but that cost has since ballooned an extra $86 million.

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The Government of Canada is providing $57.5 million through the federal Airport Critical Infrastructure Program, with the remaining $142.5 million being fully funded by the authority.

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Miles told Global News the higher updated cost isn’t surprising.

“I wouldn’t say cost overruns necessarily (are to blame),” Miles pointed out. “The project is coming in based on the supply chain and the materials.”

Authority officials maintain the money is well spent, adding it will be poured back into the Calgary-area economy in no time.

“This runway project is projected to generate and create an estimated 300 jobs over the course of its construction,” Miles said.

“It’s a project that will allow thousands and thousands of aircraft to land and take off at YYC. It will also welcome hundreds of thousands of tourists.”

Authority president and CEO Chris Dinsdale echoed that.

“This project is just one of many that we’ll be undertaking to meet the needs of our community and serve as an economic driver for our area,” Dinsdale said. “Both today and for decades to come.”

Construction of YYC runway rehabilitation project. Tomasia DaSilva

Sustainable and environmentally-friendly

The project will completely overhaul and replace the aging runway, making significant regulatory, safety and environmental upgrades, including:

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  • Upgrading existing electrical fixtures to LED.
  • Future proofing for climate resilience with upgrades to storm infrastructure beneath the runway.
  • Incorporating carbon entrapment technology in the concrete used.
  • Adding Runway End Safety Areas to comply with regulatory requirements.

It will also reuse some of the existing material on the current runway.

“About 80 per cent of the old runway will be crushed on site and be put back into the new runway,” Dinsdale pointed out.

Construction has started on Calgary runway rehabilitation. Tomasia DaSilva

Residents warned about noise

The authority said two of the three runways at the airport will remain fully open, allowing airlines to operate as usual. However, some flights will change paths, resulting in some extra noise for some Calgary neighbourhoods.

Dinsdale said those involved with the project have been focused on mitigating that noise.

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“We do need to find a balance between economic growth and the impact on those that are surrounding our airport, absolutely,” he said.

“So, we’ve taken different measures. There are noise measurement systems that have been put in place temporarily during this project. We’ve had community outreach.”

The rehabilitation project is expected to be completed in two construction seasons.

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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