Dibble Partners with Durango-La Plata County Airport

Partnering with an important regional airport to meet their vision of expanded growth.

Durango-La Plata County Airport (DRO) recently received the “Best in Colorado” Asphalt Pavement Award for the Airport category from the Colorado Asphalt Pavement Association (CAPA). As the design engineering consultant to DRO, Dibble has played a key role in the airport’s recent rehabilitation and expansion program.

Dibble has held an on-call contract with DRO since October 2018, under which we provide design and bid phase services for a variety of important rehabilitation, maintenance, and expansion projects at DRO. These projects are part of DRO’s vision to enhance the airport’s facilities, as it serves as the primary regional airport for the Four Corners region (including southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico). DRO served nearly 367,000 passengers in 2022 and is serviced by American Airlines and United Airlines. It generates approximately $300 million a year for the regional economy and provides key services such as general aviation (GA), air cargo, military training, emergency medical services, and the U.S. Forest Service air tanker base.

Through our work at DRO, Dibble has gained invaluable experience completing grant applications for federal funds on the airport’s behalf; coordinating with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); and working alongside airport stakeholders including airport users, airport staff, the City of Durango, La Plata County, and the FAA to achieve the airport’s vision for growth. Our work at DRO includes taxiway and runway reconstructions and expansions for the ground service equipment (GSE), commercial aprons, terminal, rental car parking, and employee parking.

Some of our recent projects at DRO are highlighted below. 

South General Aviation (GA) Hangar Taxilanes Pavement Rehabilitation

Dibble provided design and construction phase services for the rehabilitation of taxilanes at the south GA hangars. The four taxilanes between the T-hangars needed rehabilitation due to the asphalt pavement experiencing various distresses including wide longitudinal and transverse cracking and drainage inlets raised due to depressed pavement surrounding the inlet. Utility cuts were also present that had separated at the pavement patch back. Dibble recommended a mill and overlay based on the condition of the existing pavement. The team designed a 2-inch mill and overlay of the taxiway pavement up to the hangar concrete aprons, a total of approximately 5,196 square yards. Dibble also designed new pavement markings (centerline striping). 

Taxiway A Rehabilitation

Dibble provided design and construction administration services for the reconstruction of Taxiway A between Taxiway A2 and the South GA Apron that intersects both entrances to the commercial apron. Based on the 2018 pavement condition index (PCI) of 36—as well as the projected PCI of 32 by 2021—a full-depth reconstruction was recommended. The observed pavement distresses included alligator cracking, longitudinal cracking, and transverse cracking. However, the apron entrance that aligns with Taxiway A2 received a mill and overlay instead of a full-depth reconstruction since this portion of pavement is expected to be removed within the next 10 years by a future airport improvement project.

Dibble first prepared and submitted the federal grant application for this project to the FAA for funding. The team then prepared preliminary and final design plans for the taxiway rehabilitation, along with new drainage infrastructure and pavement markings. The existing lighting and signage were in good condition and were salvaged and reinstalled during construction. Dibble also provided construction administration and inspection services. 

Commercial Aircraft Apron Rehabilitation

Dibble provided design services for the commercial apron north entrance, which was experiencing severe rutting and alligator cracking. Based on the condition of the existing pavement and pavement section, a 6-inch mill and overlay with pavement reinforcement grid was recommended. The purpose of the reinforcement grid was to increase the shear strength of the asphalt, which was failing due to poor subgrade conditions. Our team designed the rehabilitation to maintain the serviceability of the pavement until the planned reconstruction scheduled for 2025.

Airline GSE Parking Expansion

Dibble provided engineering, design, and bid phase services for the GSE parking expansion project. Previously, much of the GSE used at DRO had been parked immediately north of the terminal building, between the building and the security fence to the north, but plans to expand the terminal would eliminate this parking. This project replaced the former GSE parking area with two new GSE parking areas located on the south and northwest sides of the commercial apron. Dibble designed a new pavement section composed of 12 inches of compacted millings, 6 inches of base course, and 4 inches of asphalt to support fuel and deice trucks.

Runway 3-21 Rehabilitation

Dibble provided design and construction administration services for the Runway 3-21 rehabilitation project. The scope included an asphalt mill and overlay to the runway structural pavement area as well as the taxiway connector pavement areas up to approximately the holding position pavement markings for Taxiways A2, A3, and A4. The last pavement inspection performed in 2018 indicated a pavement PCI of 59 and was projected to degrade to a PCI of 52 by 2021. Pavement distresses included localized alligator cracking, block cracking, longitudinal and transverse cracking, and raveling and weathering. Based on the PCI, the Dibble team recommended a 3-inch mill and overlay.

Portions of the runway exceeded the maximum cross-slope requirement of 1.50%. To address these noncompliant cross-slopes, Dibble designed portions of the runway to have a variable-depth mill with a fixed overlay depth, combined with localized shoulder removal/regrading. The runway rehabilitation included new runway lighting and distance remaining signage, new runway pavement markings, and asphalt grooving. Dibble saw this project through from beginning to end, as we submitted the federal grant application to the FAA, prepared preliminary and final design plans, and provided construction administration and inspection. The construction was completed in a record 10 days.

Dibble is proud of our partnership with DRO to advance the airport’s vision for growth and enhanced service in the region, and we look forward to continuing to work with DRO on their airport expansion program!

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Rebecca Argo