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Airport gears up for most complex elements

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Friday 23 November 2012

Guernsey Airport and Lagan Construction are gearing up to begin one of the most significant and complex elements of the ongoing essential maintenance and improvements during the forthcoming closures on 27-28 November and 4-5 December.

It includes the complete reconstruction of a 50 metre section of the existing runway, so that it can be lowered by up to 70 cm. This also has to be connected to a new 120 metre section that is being built at the western end.

This new section will eventually allow the existing runway to be displaced westwards, to provide a longer safety area at the eastern end.

The asphalt 'taxiway' that aircraft use for access to and from the western end of the runway is also being rebuilt and extended to connect to this new section.

The airport will close as normal around 9pm on Monday evening (26 November 2012), but the runway will not then reopen until 6.30am on Thursday (29 November 2012). There will be a similar closure the following week, when these phases of the works will be completed.

More than 1,000 tonnes of concrete will be excavated from the runway and taxiway during the first night of each of the closures.

The first 30 metres of the existing runway will be reconstructed during next week's closure, and the remainder the following week. Between these phases, a temporary asphalt ramp will be used to return the runway to operational use.

Two asphalt shifts will work round the clock, and expect to produce and lay 4,000 tonnes of the material over each of the closures. An electrical team will also be in close support to install aerodrome ground lighting and signage as the works proceed.

Lowering the height of the runway at the western end has greatly reduced the amount of material needed to fill in a dip further along the runway, and still achieve the required profile. That phase of the works was completed earlier this year.

More significantly, it also reduces the height of the new runway end safety area at the western end. That removed the need to import around 300,000 tonnes of fill material that would have been required to create a higher profile.

Guernsey Airport recently wrote to around 800 neighbours around the airfield, to give them notice of the closures. It also warned that the work that is being undertaken would involve an increase in night time noise, and apologised in advance for any disruption.

Lagan Construction operates a 24 hour hotline, and anyone directly affected by the construction works is being encouraged to call 01481 238222 to report any undue disturbance.

Guernsey Airport Project manager Gerry Prickett said to date neighbours had been extremely understanding and positive about the works.

'We have worked with neighbours as best we can, to minimise any disruption during any phase of the work as it happens. For a project on this scale, you are not going to be able to avoid there being some disturbance, but by and large most people appreciate the importance of this work and have been very tolerant and understanding,' he said.

'Wherever we can we try to limit the noisiest activities to the daytime, but due to the sheer scale of the works being undertaken during this closure that just is not possible. We've written to neighbours to warn them of this, and to let them know it is primarily these few nights. However if it gets really bad for anyone we will see if there is anything we can do to help.'

The two imminent runway closures are the last of four planned closures for the Airport2040 projects. The final one will begin when the airport shuts from 9pm on Monday 3December 2012, and the airfield will reopen at 6.30am on Thursday 6 December 2012.

Special arrangements will be in place in case of any medical emergencies.

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