R&M Through the Years: Bethel Airport Improvements

October 22, 2019
In celebration of R&M’s 50th anniversary, we are taking a look back at the projects over the last five decades that made R&M into the firm it is today. This month we take a look at a multi-phase, multi-year runway improvement project at the Bethel Airport in which R&M was the prime consultant and engineer-of-record during the 2000s.
Bethel Airport Runway

The Bethel Airport is the regional hub for Western Alaska, providing both passenger and cargo service to the area. Originally build in 1941 as a military air base, it is one of the busiest airports in Alaska, ranking third in the state for total number of flights.

Due to the age of the facilities and high volume of traffic, the airport needed numerous repairs and additional infrastructure facilities. In the mid-2000s, the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) implemented a multi-phase, multi-year project to address these issues. The project involved correcting Runway 1L-19R safety areas, Runway 1L-19R operational surface deficiencies (Bethel Bump), construction of a new parallel Runway 1R-19L, reconstruction of the GA Apron and Taxiway E to accommodate future heavy cargo aircraft, and rehabilitation of the main terminal apron pavement.

R&M was the civil engineer-of-record for the many phases of this project and completed planning studies, surveying and mapping, geotechnical recommendations, environmental documentation and Airport Layout Plan updates, design and construction administration. To minimize costs, R&M completed geotechnical explorations, reporting, environmental documentation and permitting to develop two on-site borrow sources that provided more than 800,000 cubic yards of embankment material.

In addition, since the airport still need to operate during construction, R&M developed phased plans to maintain normal scheduled aircraft service and maintain leaseholders’ access.

The updated facilities, as well as the new infrastructure, will serve the Bethel community and Western Alaskan Region for years to come, accommodating the many cargo and passenger needs of this area.

Next month, we will look at a new multi-use sports facility and community gathering space at the University of Alaska Anchorage where R&M served as the design team civil engineer.