Design, Construction and Maintenance of Concrete Pavements at the World’s Busiest Airport
In 2011, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) served more than 92 million passengers and experienced more than 923,000 aircraft operations. As the busiest airport in the world, its two main departure runways serve more than 200,000 departures per year. This paper presents the design, construction and maintenance procedures used at ATL over the last 40 years that have allowed economical, efficient, and timely service by the concrete runway, taxiway and apron pavements. The two departure runways have served almost double their original design lives with each serving more than 5 million departures. One of the runways (RW-8R) was replaced in 2006 at an age of 37 years. The other runway (RW-9L) continues to serve and is 38 years old. It is projected to serve several more years. Innovations in joint design including the elimination of keyways, concrete slabs dowelled on all four sides and slab geometry on taxiways to improve load placement of gears of heavy jets to reduce stresses and the attendant longitudinal joint cracking are discussed. Evaluation techniques for alkali-silica (ASR) distress and design improvements to reduce the impact of ASR are presented. The use of subsurface underdrain features have contributed to the extended life and excellent performance of the pavements. In addition, Pavement Management System techniques used to evaluate, maintain and extend the life of the two main departure runways to nearly double their original design lives are presented. The overall savings experienced by ATL just in capital costs for replacement of the two runways has been conservatively estimated to be more the 100 million dollars (US).