Duluth Airport Celebrates Completion of Runway Reconstruction Project

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: September 27, 2019 08:41 PM

The Duluth International Airport celebrated its finished runway reconstruction project with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.


It took three years to finish the $38.3 million reconstruction of the main runway known as 9/27. The project was done in three phases.

The runway was made in 1954 and after many years, the concrete had wear and tear and needed an upgrade for the safety of everyone.

“The concrete was starting to wear prematurely and big chunks were coming out. We hit it with a sledgehammer basically and could pull it right out,” said Blaine Peterson, the operations manager for Duluth International Airport.

$31,000,000 of the project’s funds came from the Federal Aviation Administration. $6,500,000 was provided by MNDOT Aeronautics and $766,224 was supplied by the Duluth Airport Authority. The runway project helped create over 500 construction jobs.

Project leaders called the runway reconstruction the hardest section to repair at the airport. The construction covered 60 acres of airfield total and will offer a better and safer traveling experience for everyone. 

Safety is a priority that the Duluth Airport takes seriously and is the reason why this project was started.

"Runway 9/27 will remain the backbone of Duluth Airport by providing a safe place to land for family, friends and visitors,” said Tom Werner, the executive director of the Duluth Airport Authority.

The 10,000 foot runway now has a new concrete pavement that’s 13 inches deep. There's energy-efficient illumination, with 500 LED lights and nearly 40 miles of electrical cable, including a new airfield lighting control management system.

“That's the lighting system in the traffic control tower cam where controllers can operate and step up or reduce the intensity of the lights depending on what pilots want and weather conditions,” said Peterson.

The runway also has a new paint job and better signage for pilots, including a new precision approach path indicator, a visual guide that helps pilots with making safe landings.

The three year project was challenging for everyone involved.

"It was a very detailed and complicated project that impacted literally thousands of people, thousands of jobs, travel schedules, itineraries, and all of our tenants here,” said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson.

Strong infrastructure for decades to come was the goal with this project. Now that it’s done, the Duluth Airport Authority looks forward to the benefits this will bring to the business and visitor economy.

“Our primary runway will fulfill its role of foundation air commerce in this region as well as a vital connection for northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin to the global economy,” said Werner.

The ribbon cutting was done Friday, on Sept. 27 in honor of the runway's name, 9/27.


Alejandra Palacios

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