By John Schaffner

The sky over Peachtree-DeKalb Airport will be less busy for 17 days beginning Dec. 1.

The main 6,000-foot runway is being torn up and the concrete replaced, resulting in the grounding of many of the larger jet aircraft. While some small jets and most of the propeller aircraft at PDK will still be able to take off and land on the shorter 3,700-foot runway, it is not enough room for the larger jets.

The start of construction on this project is new, Airport Director Lee Remmel said, but it has been in the works for years. “It is new because this is the first year we have gotten the money allocated for the work.” He said much of the holdup has been trying to get federal grants to pay for the work.

The work is already causing quite a bit of disruption in airport operations, Remmel said, but it has to be done.

Remmel explained that some pieces of the runway—officially designated as Runway 20L—are 45 years old. “It has had its share of wear and it is time to replace it,” he added.

The runway is constructed of 25 by 25-foot slabs of concrete that are 9 to 12 inches thick. Remmel said with slabs that large there can be concrete failure on the sides or in the middle over time.

The airport director explained that the contract with Precision 2000, calls for the company to cut the large concrete slabs into quarters, break up and haul off the old concrete, check the base and sub-base and fix if necessary. When the new concrete slabs are poured, they have to be tied together with dowels to ensure they don’t slip around.

Night work on the project began Nov. 13, with crews working from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. cutting the large slabs into smaller, more manageable pieces that can be broken up with jackhammers and backhoes. That work was completed ahead of schedule, Remmel said.

“We have been exceptionally pleased with the work of Precision 2000,” he added.

On Dec. 1 the runway will be shut down for 17 days to all traffic, during which the old concrete will be removed and new concrete with a high cure rate will be poured.

“They may still be pouring concrete on the 14th and 15th days, but they have to have the runway open on the 18th day,” Remmel said.