Work will begin in earnest this Sunday, March 10, on the Runway Rehabilitation Project of the Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM).
According to Mirto Breell, Director of the Technical Division at SXM, work on the new taxiway Bravo, the general aviation ramp extension, and the new helipad will start this Sunday while the asphalting of the runway is scheduled to start a week later. He said that the asphalt plant has been built in the area across from the Terminal building since mid-January and testing of the asphalt mix began on February 28, 2013.
"Everything is on track. We have very good communication with the contractor, scheduled biweekly meetings, and impromptu meetings as required. The contractor has submitted a quality control program, which outlines all the safety and security issues on the airside," said Breell.
He further disclosed that SXM met with the St. Maarten Medical Center and Louis Constant Fleming Medical Center to update them on the runway restrictions during the project execution. Both hospitals will be updated weekly on the progress of the project and the availability of the runway for emergency medical evacuation flights at night during the rehabilitation project.
Also to be replaced during the multimillion dollar SXM runway rehabilitation, explained Breell, is the Airfield Ground Lighting (AGL), which includes the runway edge lights, taxiway lighting, windsock lighting, runway signage, precision approach path indicators (PAPI), and the remote system to control the lights.
Regina LaBega, Managing Director of PJIAE, the holding company of SXM, said the commencement of the project is an important part of the airport’s Capital Investment Program, which includes several projects aimed at upgrading SXM facilities, improving service and consequently allowing the airport to continue to meet international standards.
"This is, indeed, a new phase in the development of our airport, which begins now with the rehabilitation of the runway that will enable us to continue to remain in compliance with FAA requirements," LaBega said.
All of the work on the runway will be carried out at night between 10 PM and 6 AM when there are no aircraft operations and the airport is closed, hence there will be no affect on flight operations. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by October 9, 2013.
LaBega urged motorists and all those who would be transiting the area during the construction period to drive carefully and be on the alert for the heavy trucks entering and exiting the asphalt plant area. "We are in a high-density tourist area, with exciting entertainment and nightlife activities, and while all necessary measures have been taken to ensure safety, it is only prudent for everyone to be careful," she said.
The project will be executed as a joint venture between contractors Janssen de Jong Caribbean BV, NV Arubaanse Wegenbouw Maatschappij, and Windward Roads BV.
"The project also includes the implementation of the required Runway End Safety Area (RESA) to the west," Breell explained.
"The rehabilitation of the runway is urgently required due to the deterioration of the asphalt surface after 15 years of use. It is customary to have a major resurfacing of the runway done every 15-20 years depending on the condition of the airport pavements," added Breell. The last resurfacing of the runway took place in 1997.
The new taxiway Bravo will be modified to allow larger commercial aircraft to have better access to the ramps and shorten the backtracking on the runway prior to take off.
In preparation for the SXM runway rehabilitation, a topographical survey, a pavement investigation with core drilling, and subsoil testing among other stringent internationally required studies were carried out.