October 14, 2015
Tomorrow, October 15th, the Epstein-led design of O'Hare International Airport's Runway 10R-28L will have its commissioning ceremony and shortly thereafter, become fully operational. This event, which feature appearances by Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner, Ginger Evans, marks the end of a six and half year effort by our engineering team to design 10R-28L, a 7,500 foot long, 150 foot wide, CAT II/III all-weather runway. The multi-firm engineering team that Epstein managed and providing co-lead engineering services for, along our friends at the Michael Baker Corporation, was responsible for the design of 10R-28L's earthwork, grading, pavements, geometrics, NAVAIDS, drainage, storm water conveyance, erosion and sedimentation control, utilities, lighting, signing, and pavement marking.
The planning, design and construction of Runway 10R-28L was a complex and complicated project. In addition to the runway design, the proposed runway location required property acquisition, relocating an IDOT five lane road, relocating a railroad, relocating a major ditch and relocating the airfield's south access road and guard post. This all had to be accomplished at one of the nation's busiest airports while conforming to the requirements and the standards of the O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP), Federal Aviation Administration, the Chicago Department of Aviation and the numerous user airlines.
Runway 10R-28L also features numerous sustainable design and construction techniques utilized to construct the runway. Because of its nature, aviation runway and pavement work is typically somewhat difficult to provide significant sustainable elements. But the OMP and the City of Chicago placed a major emphasis on including sustainable elements in the design of the runway. The Epstein-led engineering team worked closely with the OMP to identify how this could be accomplished. As a result, recycled materials were utilized when possible in the paving contract and the design also specified the use of warm mix asphalt for runway and taxiway shoulders. This material is produced and placed at a much lower temperature than typical asphalt thus saving on energy use. In addition, light-emitting diode (LED) lights are being used for the runway and taxiway centerline, edge line and touch down lights. LED lights have lower energy consumption and a longer life span. And, the best part about this entire engineering effort was that Runway 10R-28L was budgeted at $308M and the final cost came in at $270M! A whopping $38M below budget!
Congratulations go out for a job very well done to our engineering team which was led by Epstein's director of engineering, Thomas E. Smiles, PE. In addition to Tom, Epstein's team also included Victor Iniguez, Don Reilly, Pradip Desai, Alena Piburn, Dave Hilty, Tom Pociask, Jay Masi, Greg Osborne, Pete Dombrowski, Theresa Pelletier, and Nicole Firnbach.
In addition, we would be remiss without also acknowledging the efforts of our recently retired director of aviation, Allen L. Pomerance, who played an invaluable role in the direction and management of our 10R-28L engineering team. Without Als efforts, this project would not have been the success it is.
Lastly, Runway 10R-28L is O'Hare's third new east-west parallel runway and the second that was designed by an Epstein-led engineering team. Nearly seven years ago the Epstein co-engineered, again with Baker, Runway 9L-27R opened on November 20, 2008. We take great pride in helping the O'Hare Modernization Program with these complex engineering efforts and look forward to our next assignment!