JBER breaks ground on $309 million runway extension

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Hailey Staker
  • JBER Public Affairs
Military and state officials came together to break ground for the extension of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s north-south 16/34 runway during a ceremony Oct. 14.

One of two on Elmendorf Field, Runway 16/34 will be extended 2,900 feet to make the length of the runway 10,000 feet and the southern threshold of the runway will shift 400 feet to the north to meet airfield design requirements.

“This project reflects the importance of expanding our capacity and capabilities to project power into the Pacific Theater,” said Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy. “It’s going to improve safety for military aircraft, their crews and passengers, and reduce flight noise for neighbors.”

According to U.S. Army Col. Damon Delarosa, the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Alaska district, the $309 million “mega-project” is the largest Pacific Air Forces construction project awarded to date.

“Quite literally, the runway extension project will require us to move a mountain of nearly 12 million cubic yards of excavation,” Delarosa said. “This material is equal to about 800,000 dump truck loads. If parked bumper-to-bumper, those vehicles would stretch from JBER to San Antonio, Texas.”

Major excavation is anticipated to begin Nov. 2 and the contract completion date is September 2025.

Over the next four years, the primary contractor Kiewit Infrastructure and various contracting partners will complete an array of tasks, such as excavation, asphalt paving, utility piping, laying of electrical and communication line, and batching and placing concrete, to name a few.

“The 16/34 runway extension is a real jobs project,” said Pat Harrison, the Alaska Area manager for Kiewit Infrastructure. “We estimate this project will require over 650,000 craft-hours to complete, which translates to about 156 man-years given the construction schedule.”

At this time, Runway 16/34’s current length limits the operational capability of flying missions for large-frame aircraft, specifically during inclement weather, added Beth Madison, a project engineer with the 673d Civil Engineer Squadron.

“This creates a heavy reliance on runway 06/24,” Madison said. “Any time runway 06/24 is closed or unusable it limits JBER's capability to project power into the Indo-Pacific region. Lengthening runway 16/34 to 10,000 feet, equal to the east-west runway 06/24, will provide full capability for all airframes and optimize mission performance.”

For 3rd Wing, who provides combat ready air power in support of both U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Northern Command, this project brings increased opportunities.

“This overhaul will bring significant capabilities as we provide air dominance, global mobility, airlift and command and control to combatant commanders,” said Col. Samuel Todd, the vice commander of the 3rd Wing. “It’s going to enhance and improve our homeland defense alert mission, our daily training which is set against a near peer adversary, and we [and our allies and partners] are going to be more successful.”

Improving mission capabilities at JBER aren’t the only impacts of the extension. Surrounding communities and civilian aviators may see a benefit once the project is complete.

“Shifting more operations to an extended runway 16/34 will reduce conflicts with civilian aircraft operating through Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Lake Hood Seaplane Base, and Merrill Field,” said Madison. “This will increase safety for military and civilian air crews and minimize impacts to flight operations. Departures to the north may also reduce noise in neighborhoods on the north side of Anchorage.”

The project will also extend the two parallel taxiways; add an arm/disarm pad; upgrade the airfield lighting and the instrument landing system; re-route Airlifter Drive around the north end of the extension; relocate airfield perimeter fencing and reconfigure utility services in the area.