FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Aug. 16, 2001
OAKLAND - Oakland International Airport reopened its main runway at noon today, four days ahead of schedule.
The first plane to depart was Southwest flight No. 628, which left at 12:35 p.m. for Ontario with 119 passengers on board.
The 10,000-foot runway closed at 2:10 p.m. Friday for an ambitious $21.5 million repaving project that involved laying approximately 104,000 tons of asphalt and installing 664 lights. More than 500 people worked around the clock, beginning minutes after the runway closed to all air traffic.
The airport has remained open during the closure, with airplanes taking off from a temporary runway adjacent to the repaving project and landing on runways at the airport's North Field.
No flight delays have been reported due to the construction, and traffic jams on roads leading to the airport failed to materialize. Airport officials had suggested allowing an additional 45 minutes to reach the terminals because of the 50 to 80 construction trucks using nearby roads, but the only significant congestion was during normal peak traffic times on Friday and Sunday evenings.
"We have spent more than a year planning the project so as to minimize the inconvenience to our passengers and our neighbors, and it has paid off," said Steve Grossman, director of aviation for the Port of Oakland.
Almost every possible detail was planned, down to having two tow trucks - one of them capable of moving a construction truck - on standby at the airport. The tow trucks were never needed.
A command center on the eighth floor of the terminal, with views of both roadways and runways, monitored operations 24 hours a day.
The airport upgraded a taxiway to create the temporary runway so that departing commercial aircraft could avoid flying over Alameda during the construction period.
The work was scheduled in August to avoid the possibility of weather-related construction delays and so that planes using the North Field runways would not have to fly over San Leandro schools while they are in session. Work started on a weekend, when the airport has the fewest cargo flights.
Incoming aircraft used a flight pattern over part of San Leandro, where residents received offers of discount airline tickets and free tickets to their choice of 10 area attractions to thank them for their cooperation during the construction period.
Approximately 600 discount airline tickets were issued, and about 6,500 tickets to area attractions had been distributed as of yesterday. Eligible residents have been invited to select tickets to an additional attraction from those that are still available on Thursday and Friday. The airport received about 100 noise complaints during construction.
Homebound San Leandro residents were offered temporary relocation in health care facilities if the flight pattern changes were likely to impact their health. Although a number of residents inquired about this, none signed up for the program.
Oakland International Airport has two airfields. The main runway is located at South Field and used by the commercial airlines.
North Field has two air carrier runways. One is 5,453 feet long and the other, 6,212 feet long. Both of these runways, typically used by corporate jets and smaller general aviation planes, are approved by the FAA for commercial aircraft use.
"Our contractors have done an outstanding job in completing the work quickly," Grossman added. "We want to thank all of them, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration, the airlines and our neighbors for working with us on a plan that met the needs of everyone."
The repaving of the main air carrier runway was necessary to maintain safe operating conditions. The repaved runway is designed to last for 15 years and consists of an asphalt concrete overlay of approximately six inches and a grooved surface to provide additional friction. The last complete repaving was in 1977, more than 20 years ago.
Additional information on the overall project is available on the Internet at http://www.oaklandairport.com/community.htm or at 510-577-4692.
In 2000 Oakland International Airport served more than 10.6 million passengers and handled approximately 700,000 metric tons of air cargo.
Oakland International has more than 190 daily passenger flights on 12 domestic and international carriers. The airport is a revenue division of the Port of Oakland, an independent department of the City of Oakland.