Seattle-Tacoma International Airport's center runway is slated to close July 12 for nearly two months for repairs.
Contractors are to replace 150 deteriorating concrete pavement panels in a project that could cost $5.65 million. Airport officials say the job might cost less, because intense competition for the work is driving the price down.
Two remaining runways will remain open for landings and takeoffs – the airport’s longest runway closest to the terminal and its shorter, western runway.
Because summertime weather is usually best for flying, and because flight numbers have been diminished by the recession, the runway closure is not expected to affect scheduled flights.
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The panel replacement project will help postpone the need to demolish and replace the entire center runway until 2016, airport officials say. The airport originally had planned on replacing the entire nearly 10,000-foot runway this year or next, but budget considerations caused the airport to make the repairs instead.
The middle runway was built in 1969. At that time, officials said it had a 20-year projected life span. Airport workers have prolonged that life with periodic overlays and panel replacements since 1993.
The airport’s other two runways are relatively new. The 8,500-footlong third runway opened in 2008. The airport’s longest runway, nearly 12,000 feet long, was completely replaced last year.
The runway is scheduled to reopen Sept. 12. While it’s closed, most landings are expected to go on the westernmost runway nearest homes in Burien and Normandy Park. Most takeoffs will happen on the easternmost runway near the airport terminal.
The three runways are parallel to one another, with a north-south orientation.