NAS Jacksonville runway face-lift underway

$50 million project includes recycling 20 tons of concrete into new runway


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A $50 million project is underway to renovate and upgrade the runway at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

It's the first time the runway has had a major overhaul in nearly 50 years. The renovations include a new 1,000-foot overrun pavement added to the existing runway, along with upgrades to the taxiways and new airfield lighting. 

"It's critical. The concrete-capped ends on both sides of the runway were cracking and causing foreign-object damage for the aircraft," NAS Jax commanding officer Howard Wanamaker said. "It is a very complex and complicated project and as you can see behind me, the scope of it is enormous."

Workers are currently milling 20 tons of concrete, which will be recycled and put back into the new runway.

"Being able to recycle everything we can out of any construction project is one of the commanding officer's main objectives," said Lt. Jamie Wallace, project manager at NAS Jax.

Since the beginning of construction, all fixed-winged flight operations and personnel have been moved to Cecil Airport.

"We haven't missed a beat over there, and that's a testament of our relationship with (the Jacksonville Aviation Authority) and the city," Wanamaker said.

Three of the hangars at NAS Jax have been at the air station since World War II. They're not energy efficient and will be demolished, but some of the artifacts inside will be collected and preserved at Jacksonville's Museum of Science and History.

The museum will display parts of a door and windows with special architecture, handles and ladder wells from the 1940s.

"It's important to make sure that these are preserved. They're very unique to Jacksonville," said Angela Glass, natural and cultural resource manager at NAS Jax. "They were very important long ago. I don't think a lot of people realize or understand that it's not public access. I think being able to show this to the public is great."

In the meantime, the air station's runway is getting some much-needed upgrades that will make it safer for the sailors and their equipment.

"When this project's complete and we've got our full complement of P-8s and MH-60 Romeos here, we'll have over 120 aircraft here on the line and conducting operations out of here," Wanamaker said. "It'll help us be more efficient so the aircraft can taxi straight out to the runway down by hangar 511 on the west side."

The project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2016.