The first phase was completed last year and was recognized for its innovative way of storing carbon emissions in the concrete used for resurfacing.

Indianapolis International Airport at Sunset
Photo: Indianapolis Airport Authority

The second phase of a multi-year $190 million construction project at the Indianapolis International Airport began again this week. The Indianapolis Airport Authority continues its project to enhance capacity by reconstructing Runway 5R-23L and Taxiway D and integrating LED runway and taxiway lighting.

The airport’s south runway will be closed temporarily during this second reconstruction phase from now until late October 2023. Existing passengers and cargo traffic will use the airport’s other runway as a result. Indianapolis International Airport is a hub for FedEx and is consistently rated as the top medium-sized airport in the United States.

The construction project takes place in three phases, the first of which was completed last year. This construction investment will be instrumental for passenger and cargo aircraft and the future of aviation operations at Indiana’s busiest airport.

A three-phase project

The 10,000-foot runway, just shy of two miles, was last paved in the 1980s and early 90s, and the need for new paving on the runway was evident. The airport authority and FAA announced last year that the airport would undertake a significant revamp to accommodate heavier loads and finish needed repairs to the tune of $190 million. According to Jarod Klaas, IAA Senior Director of Planning and Development, the project will use enough concrete to replace the smallest pyramid in Giza, building a two-lane highway from Indianapolis to the 60 miles to Terre Haute.

The project has been supported with over $100 million in FAA funding. It will make IND the first airport in the United States to use carbon-capturing concrete technology and another concrete example of its commitment to long-term sustainability. Builders will recycle the existing concrete into the new runway pavement base level.

A new concrete that contains captured carbon dioxide to prevent it from contributing to global warming will be used for the top layer. Reusing the base layer will also significantly save the financial and environmental cost of hauling virgin aggregate for the runway base. The contractors also use the asphalt millings to reinforce some of our existing service roads.”

The project’s Runway 5R-23L and Taxiway D are critical infrastructures at the Indy airport. The 150-foot-wide south runway supports most cargo operations at the airport, along with a significant amount of commercial airline traffic. The shift back to one runway may result in some citizens noticing more aircraft in the skies near their homes or places of business. Keith Berlen, Indianapolis Airport Authority’s Senior Director of Operations and Public Safety, confirmed that the upcoming works would not affect passengers or delay flights:

“Although the south runway will be temporarily closed for reconstruction, we do not anticipate any flight delays for travelers. We have coordinated with the airport’s commercial and cargo airlines to help minimize disruptions, and have a solid plan in place that was executed well during the first phase of construction last year.”

IND Airport south runway resurfacing

Photo: Indianapolis Airport Authority

A runway with an impact

The technology used to make the pavement for the $190 million project is the first of its kind to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The carbon sequestered in the 22-inch top layer of concrete in the future reconstruction process is estimated to hold the CO2 equivalent of planting 1.2 million trees.

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In addition to using CO2 capture, the airport construction project has taken additional environmentally friendly steps, including LED lighting and an extra inch of concrete to extend the life of the concrete runway from a 20-year expected life cycle to a 40-year one.

The construction process has also had tertiary environmental benefits, such as construction waste management, water reuse, material reuse, and reduced emissions and fuel using onsite materials. Mario Rodriguez, Indianapolis Airport Authority’s Executive Director, highlighted the future-proofing aspect of the project:

“We continue to maintain the Indy airport’s critical infrastructure, and doing so in a way that ensures the airport remains a valuable public asset over time.

“Our award-winning operations and engineering teams, along with our business partners, are delivering a project that meets the airport’s needs to accommodate the more than 8 million travelers who fly out of the Indy airport each year.”

The runway’s initial phase became the first airfield project in the world to earn the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s Envision Platinum Award, the institution’s highest award for sustainability and resiliency due to the pioneering construction methods used.

New opportunities for passengers and cargo

The Indianapolis Airport Authority plans to spend approximately $38.6 million with 34 diverse businesses for the project’s first two phases. The construction project will create more than 3,200 jobs with more diverse business participation anticipated with phase three in 2024.

The airport also hopes the investment will draw European routes to the airport. Indianapolis has been without direct flights to Europe since Delta Air Lines paused its Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) route at the onset of the pandemic.

Indianapolis is the number one unserved US market to Europe. A quarter of a million passengers flew between Indianapolis and Europe, of which 7% flew nonstop. Another 200,000 passengers were estimated to connect between the airport in Europe this past year.


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