Elizabethtown Airport runway being ‘rejuvenated’

By Michael Futch Staff writer | Posted: Sunday, May 31, 2015 12:00 am

ELIZABETHTOWN – This month, private airplanes and small business jets have been sharing the runway at the town-owned Curtis L. Brown Jr. Field with contractors.
The site work falls under the Asphalt Rejuvenation Project, which is funded by the N.C. Department of Transportation and, in this case, assists in maintaining the asphalt on the runway, parallel taxiway and apron.
Under a professional services contract, Trimat Materials Testing Inc., is overseeing the maintenance aspect of this $180,000 job that the state DOT is coordinating.

Paul Rogers, the director of aviation services for Trimat, said adding a sealant to the asphalt is far less expensive than resurfacing the asphalt. “It would be more than 10 times the cost to repave it,” he said.

“If you maintain the asphalt before it falls apart, you can save a lot of money on the life cycle of the pavement,” Rogers said. “We can maintain it, kind of like a house – if you keep it painted.”

The markings at the airport had faded. Due to safety concerns for pilots, the markings will be repainted a final time once the asphalt has had time to “cure.”

The airport, a general aviation facility at 466 Airport Road, Elizabethtown, features a 5,006-foot lighted runway and taxiway.

The work is being done in a couple of phases, Rogers said. For about three days, the runway was closed this month for the application of the sealant.

Over time, the weathered asphalt had become brittle. A rejuvenator product was sprayed on it, designed to seal the cracks and make the asphalt more flexible.

“We’re trying to make it new again,” Rogers said, “so it doesn’t fall apart so it has to be repaved. This makes it soft and flexible again. We make sure it’s not slippery for aircraft. The aesthetics are important, too. We make sure it’s not going to be a bad gateway” to Elizabethtown and Bladen County.

The project also includes some patching work.

“We try to make sure everything goes smoothly and everybody is happy,” Rogers said. “We make sure everything is done safely to FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) criteria. We make sure the taxpayers of the state get what they pay for.”

The project began early this month and will likely be finished with final markings on the runway within about 30 days. Or, as Rogers put it, “After everything has cured out.”

The airfield at Curtis L. Brown Jr. Field, also known as the Elizabethtown Airport, dates to the 1940s, according to Mitch Taylor, who manages its day-to-day operations. The runway was first paved in 1988, he said, and the entire airport was resurfaced 11 years ago at a cost of roughly $650,000.

That cost included some new construction on the taxiway.

At this time, 23 aircraft are based out of the facility, Taylor said. In terms of aircraft operations, the airport averaged about 25 aircraft a day in 2014.

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