HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Residents near Hill Air Force Base may notice a difference in flight patterns over the next several months.
Officials at the Utah military installation announced Monday that the main runway will undergo a $43.6 million three-phase reconstruction project to repair degrading surface issues.
The principal purpose for the project is to upgrade deteriorating infrastructure and enhance safety for pilots, explained Paul Waite, project officer with the 75th Civil Engineer Group. He said the asphalt used in the runway has degraded over time, resulting in more loose debris and increasing the potential for serious damage to the jets if pieces are pulled into an aircraft's engine.
“Runways typically last 10-15 years and this one was built in 2005, so it was time for it to be replaced,” Waite said. “A brand-new runway surface, built to correct standards, will be a major boost to pilot safety and will help protect our assets.”
Besides the completion of asphalt pavement repair and improvement, the 13,500-foot runway will also undergo concrete pavement restoration, shoulder widening, broadening the south end of the taxiway by 55 feet, building new overruns, placing new signage, along with installing new lighting and electrical wiring, a news release states.
On the north end of the runway, a 4,000-foot section of the runway has been closed since last month during phase one construction. To navigate the shortened runway, aircraft taking off to the south are starting nearly a mile later than normal, the release states.
Officials said nearby communities may experience higher noise levels during this initial phase.
“When we take off to the south like normal, we are lower and slower — meaning louder — at the end of the runway,” said Col. Daniel Gable, F-35A pilot and 419th Fighter Wing vice commander. “Once we climb to our set altitude, noise levels return to normal over Layton and Clearfield.”
The construction is also forcing landing-pattern changes during night flying exercises, according to the base. Aircraft landing in nighttime hours will approach the base from the south to touch down. Officials said people as far south as Bountiful and Salt Lake City may experience increased aircraft noise during some night operations.
The entire runway will close during phase two of the project, which is scheduled to begin on June 1. Flight operations for the 388th Fighter Wing will continue, however those flights will operate out of other locations temporarily.