Removing markings and restriping a runway isn't an unusual job for Atlantic Construction Co. In fact, the March job at the Louisville International Regional Airport in Kentucky fell well within the contractor's job parameters.
"The job was to shorten concrete runway R-17 through marking removal and restriping," says Todd Hatfield, Atlantic Construction's operations manager. "After we did that the prime contractor would construct a 500-foot extension to accommodate a new United Parcel Service Airbus that needs more distance to land and take off."
But the airport needed to keep the runway open during construction, so the solution was to shorten the runway by 1,300 feet by removing existing markings and restriping part of the runway so the usable part would be shorter.
Atlantic Construction Co., Louisville, was awarded the subcontract to remove 37,585 square feet of existing runway markings, then restripe 32,817 square feet of markings with temporary paint. Once the new construction is completed this summer, Atlantic will return, remove the temporary markings, and restripe the entire runway.
But just because the work itself is typical for Atlantic Construction doesn't mean the job was without its challenges: Do the work in 48 hours. In late winter. And on a weekend.
"We've done work of this type before. In fact we do it often," says Hatfield. "But each of those things brought challenges to us."
Challenges which the 50-year-old striping operation met by thinking the job through well in advance, planning for virtually every possible problem, and getting its crew on board for the hectic weekend work. The result was completion of the job in 29 hours instead of the allotted 48 hours, which even enabled Hatfield to go home early on Sunday.
Atlantic Construction, which works in a 100-mile radius of Louisville, generates 75% of its revenue from striping, 15% from marking removal, and 10% from sealcoating. The contractor employs 15 people during peak season and has been doing airport work for 15 years. Roughly 25% of its sales are related to runway work, with the remaining 75% being parking lot and roadway jobs. Generally Atlantic's crews work up until Christmas and then shut down until March. This airport job, bid in fall 2004, was going to kick-off the 2005 season. Prime contractor Gohmann Asphalt asked how fast Atlantic could remove markings and how many square feet of markings they could remove in one day.
Hatfield said they could reasonably remove 10,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet in a 10-hour day depending on several factors including paint thickness. (Markings on the Louisville airport runway were thick, having been painted and repainted seven times over the last 14 years.) Plus, the contract called for 100% removal as opposed to only 85% removal, which some contracts accept.
"Then they asked us how much paint we can put down how fast," Hatfield says. "Well, that wasn't really a concern to us because we've painted as much as 150,000 square feet in an 8-hour day. So we weren't worried about that at all.
"We told them we would do it in five 10-hour days and that the job would be no problem. That's how we bid it and we had no concerns about it. That's when we learned we not only had a 48-hour window once we started the work but there was a $500-per-hour fine if the work wasn't completed by the deadline."
Logistics: Plan for breakdowns, weather
So the first step, even before deciding how to approach the job, was to consider the "X factors" that could result in delay.
"We knew we could do the work if the weather cooperated and if we had no breakdowns, so we put together a plan to make sure we could get it all done even if we ran into those types of problems," Hatfield says. "We had to because a $500-per-hour fine would kill us if we woke up Monday morning and we weren't finished."
To try to avoid weather problems Hatfield simply watched the forecasts. "The real pressure was the time of year," Hatfield says.