Asphalt chosen for Fort Campbell airfield

The Fort Campbell military base is best known for the 101st Airborne Division — a group of men and women who have played a critical role in recent military operations in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

The base itself stretches over more than 100,000 acres in Kentucky and Tennessee. It provides training for both ground and air operations. Military preparedness is paramount to the success of any operation. When equipment and soldiers are deployed to other parts of the country and around the globe, the runway at Fort Campbell is vital to the success of our military.

Whether it is a large C-130 cargo plane or a Blackhawk helicopter, the runway and taxiways at Fort Campbell must perform on a moment’s notice. The main runway measures 11,000 feet long and 200 feet wide. It also serves as an alternate landing location for NASA’s Space Shuttle.

Airport runway pavements must be carefully designed and properly constructed to stand up to severe load conditions.

It is no accident that the runway at Fort Campbell is paved with hot mix asphalt. Military personnel decided that the main runway, last rehabilitated in 1992, should be milled and resurfaced. The new pavement had to meet the most stringent specifications while minimizing disruptions to airfield operations.

Rogers Group, based in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, was selected to produce the asphalt mixture and pave the project. The existing runway was milled and then resurfaced to create an entirely new landing surface in June 2006.

Corps of Engineers specifications maintained strict requirements and tolerances for asphalt mixture properties, smoothness and pavement density. Longitudinal joints (the seams between adjoining sections of pavement) were trimmed with a special piece of equipment to create a perfect edge that should result in excellent performance.

The contractor was held to a statistically-based specification that requires the highest level of production consistency and pavement quality. Rogers Group produced a total of 60,000 tons of hot mix asphalt and met or exceeded all quality measures for the project. A materials transfer vehicle was used to minimize mixture segregation and temperature segregation — resulting in the smoothest possible pavement.

Paving started on June 12 and was completed June 28. Testing for pavement smoothness indicates the completed runway far exceeds the project specifications.

There is no doubt that asphalt pavements are a crucial element in military preparedness at our airfield facilities. Asphalt continues to be the material of choice for its smoothness, speed of application, cost and durability.

Brian Wood is the Executive Director of the Plantmix Asphalt Industry of Kentucky.