FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 29, 2001
OAKLAND — In conjunction with its plans to close the main runway for 10 days in August for repaving, Oakland International Airport is taking three extraordinary steps to ease the impact on the surrounding communities.
-The airport is upgrading a taxiway for use as a temporary runway so that departing aircraft can avoid flying over Alameda homes during the construction period. In addition, the temporary runway will reduce the potential for flight delays by eliminating longer taxiing times that would be required if aircraft had to take off from the alternate runways at North Field. The cost of the upgrade is approximately $6 million.
-San Leandro residents who live near the temporary approach patterns are being offered discount airline tickets to thank them for their cooperation during the construction period. Up to 1,000 tickets will be available.
-Homebound San Leandro residents can be temporarily relocated to health care facilities if the flight pattern changes are likely to impact their health. The airport will remain in operation during the repaving, which is necessary to maintain safe conditions on the runway. The last complete repaving was in 1977, more than 20 years ago. The exact dates of the August repaving will be determined during the next few weeks.
The upgrade of the taxiway required special permission from the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as agreements from the 12 passenger airlines and 5 cargo airlines that regularly use Oakland International Airport. The temporary runway will be able to accommodate all aircraft except 747s, which will not be able to use the airport while the main runway is closed.
"It is extremely rare for an airport to upgrade a taxiway for use as a temporary runway during a construction project," said Steve Grossman, director of aviation for the Port of Oakland. "We applaud both our airlines and the FAA for working with us on this effort to minimize the impact on our neighbors, while keeping the airport open for the individuals and businesses who depend on it."
The temporary runway is only 700 feet from the existing runway, which means that planes will continue to take off over San Francisco Bay during typical weather conditions, creating almost no additional impact on nearby Alameda residents. Without the temporary runway, planes would have to depart from Oakland’s North Field, flying over the Bay Farm Island section of Alameda.
Arriving planes, which typically have less impact on neighboring homes than departing planes, will use flight paths over portions of San Leandro during typical weather conditions. Because it is not feasible to design a temporary runway for incoming planes, the airport is working with 11 passenger airlines to offer discount airline tickets to San Leandro residents.
The airline tickets are being offered on a first-come, first-served basis to persons living in the approximately 9,000 San Leandro residences that are closest to the flight paths. A letter notifying these residents of the program was mailed earlier this week.
Airlines offering discount tickets are Alaska, Aloha, America West, American, Continental, Delta, JetBlue, Mexicana, Southwest, Spirit and United, Discounts and destinations vary by airline.
"We applaud our airlines, which are very generous in making this offer at one of the peak travel times of the year. So far as we know, an offer like this is unprecedented," Grossman added. San Leandro residents were notified by mail last month of the special relocation program for homebound persons whose health could be affected by the temporary flight pattern changes. Less than half a dozen people have expressed interest in this program.
"Our goal is to make every possible effort to balance the needs of our neighbors with those of the businesses and individuals that depend on the airport," Grossman said.
"We held community meetings last fall, and the consensus was that complete closure of the runway for approximately 10 days was preferable to a much longer period of weekend only closures. We have elected to upgrade the taxiway both to lessen the impact of departing flights and to ease ground congestion that could cause air traffic delays."
Incoming aircraft will land on the FAA-approved runways at North Airport rather than the temporary runway for two reasons, Grossman explained.
The first reason is that there is no taxiway for incoming planes to use to reach the passenger terminal from the temporary runway. Back-taxiing on the same pavement would be the only way to accommodate landings, and this would significantly disrupt the air traffic system. The second reason, Grossman said, is that it is not feasible to widen the temporary runway or to install the navigation equipment that is needed for landings.
As an incentive to avoid construction delays, the contractor will pay a penalty of $125,000 every 12 hours if the work is not completed on schedule.
The contractor also will receive an incentive payment of $125,000 for each 12-hour period that the project is completed ahead of schedule, up to a maximum of $1 million. There is no maximum penalty if the work is not finished on time.
Work is scheduled during August so that incoming air carriers will not fly over San Leandro schools while classes are in session, and to avoid weather-related construction delays that could lengthen the project.
The low bid on the project, including creating the temporary runway, was $16,938,383, submitted by Gallagher and Burk, Inc., of Oakland.
Oakland International Airport has two airfields. The main runway, typically used by airlines, is 10,000 feet in length and is located at South Field closest to the passenger terminal. North Field, with three runways ranging in length from 3,366 feet to 6,212 feet, is typically used by corporate jets and smaller general aviation planes. All runways are approved by the FAA for airline use.
The repaving of the main air carrier runway at South Airport 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. Runway lights also are being replaced.
Additional information on the overall project is available on the Internet at http://www.oaklandairport.com/community.html or at 510-477-4692.
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.