DAFB Breaks Ground on New Runway - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DAFB Breaks Ground on New Runway

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC)- Right next to the northbound lanes of DE 1 heavy machinery churns through the initial part of a long project to replace the main runway at Dover Air Force Base.

"They're tearing up a lot of their concrete and asphalt, pulling out the electrical lines and also then starting the gas lines," said Lt. Col. Scott Bryant, commander of the 436th Airlift Wing Civil Engineer Squadron. "They're doing a lot of the the site work and preparatory [work] for doing a lot of the demo. So, they're on the north and south ends of the runway."

On Monday, though, the focus wasn't on the ends of the runway but the middle, where the base was officially breaking ground on the project.

"You can't fly big airplanes unless you have runways that are in good shape," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware. "This runway is about 69-years-old. It's time for a new runway. We're finally getting that."

Air Force officials say the runway, which dates back to the 1940s, was in serious need of replacement. That replacement is a $98 million project that's been in the works since 2005. It's supposed to last as long as the original runway did.

The work will have a significant impact on operations at the base. For example, from early summer through December a small portion of the base's secondary runway will be Dover's only open runway.

When necessary, planes that can't be at DAFB will go to a base in New Jersey and the Air National Guard base in New Castle.

Lt. Col. Derek Salmi, 436th Operations Support Squadron commander, says all this will be worth it.

"Having a runway that works...that is going to be viable for many years to come will just be a positive, huge positive impact to our air mobility enterprise," he said.

Even though the groundbreaking was Monday, work actually began on the runway back in February - just before the worst part of this winter.

"We're probably about 10 days behind on some of the items. But that's something the Versar team is looking to make up. That's something we can do over the long haul of the project," said Lt. Col. Bryant.

The entire construction process is scheduled to run through mid-2016.

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