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Winchester Airport designers get engineering award

By Sally Voth

An engineering watchdog group is recognizing the engineering firm that recently reconstructed the only runway at Winchester Regional Airport.

Richmond-based Delta Airport Consultants Inc. will receive the award as part of the ACEC Virginia's Engineering Excellence Awards contest.

On its website, ACEC - American Council of Engineering Companies - bills itself as "the watchdog of the engineering community in the Commonwealth."

Besides educating and connecting engineering firms, ACEC lobbies the General Assembly, according to the site.

Delta Airport Consultants will receive the honor at an awards gala in February, ACEC Executive Director Nancy Israel said Thursday.

"We have a yearly competition and awards are given out," she explained. "We have a five-judge independent panel that looks at all of the projects."

Among the criteria the judges are looking for are complexity, innovation and sustainability, Israel said.

Delta Airport Consultants saved time and money by using recycling techniques in the project, according to a new release from Israel. They made a temporary runway while the new one was being rebuilt -- causing less disruption to airport traffic -- which now stands at about 40,000 flights every year.

While an asphalt overlay was added to the airport's one runway in 1991, air traffic has increased, including heavy corporate jets, according to the release. Delta Airport Consultants' job was to upgrade the runway to last another 20 years.

About 60 percent of the runway was reconstructed, with the rest getting an asphalt overlay, according to the release. A full overlay would've cost an estimated $3 million more than the project actually did, it states.

"The reconstruction included substantial onsite recycling of demolished pavement," the release states. "This sustainable design practice contributed to cost savings through reduced use of virgin materials and reduced impacts associated with hauling and disposal."

The original runway was closed for work for three months, but the temporary runway -- established on a parallel taxiway -- meant smaller planes could still take off and land, according to the release.

The award is a reflection of Delta Airport Consultants' work advancing the engineering field, Israel said.

"It's important that they're not having to tear anything up, throw it out, put new stuff in," she said in reference to the recycling techniques employed. "It didn't affect the airport for very long that they were able to do it and still keep the flights going.

"For us, [the recognition] is very much showcasing the innovation and creativity of what the engineering firms have today. Because a lot of times, they're under either tight budget constraints or tight time lines, and that's why we have this competition to start with. 

"We kind of want to put the cool back into engineering. Engineers have to do some really interesting things, and I don't think a lot of people think of engineers that way very often."

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com


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