Boral’s Queensland asphalt team has upgraded Emerald Airport in an innovative project showcasing Australia’s first stone mastic asphalt runway.
The stone mastic asphalt runway is expected to last five-plus years longer than a standard asphalt runway surface and forecast to provide significant savings for Central Highlands Regional Council, the airport owner, in future maintenance costs due to the longer lifespan.
Emerald Airport Manager Salomon Kloppers said using stone mastic asphalt also eliminated the need to cut regularly spaced grooves in the 1.9-kilometre surface – a normal runway compliance process that could have cost the council up to $700,000.
“We were looking for solutions that would both fix the problems, but then also help us deliver a cost-effective maintenance solution going forward,” Salomon said.
“What SMA is allowing us to do is to stretch the period between construction and that major maintenance maybe a decade, a decade-and-a-half into the future.
“The thing that makes it so special is the fact that we knew that it’s probably the biggest innovation in Australian airports since the inception of Marshall mixes a couple of decades ago.”
Stone mastic asphalt contains a larger proportion of coarse aggregate and more binder than traditional runway surfaces and provides the same skid resistance performance as grooved runway surfaces. Additional benefits of stone mastic asphalt include increased rut resistance, durability and performance in hot and cold weather – all key considerations for the airport project.
Identified by the customer as an expert in our field, Boral was selected for our operational and technical expertise developed through our extensive use of stone mastic asphalt.
“The key strength we found in Boral is that they have huge experience in laying stone mastic asphalt across the state on road projects,” said PJ Cullivan, a partner at GBA Consulting Engineers. “We’ve had positive experiences with everyone involved. We managed to do it in the timeframe, within the budget. Compliance has been amazing.”
Boral Asphalt Area Manager – Rockhampton, David Daniel, said the project was a rewarding opportunity for Boral. “We’re proud to be part of that. It’s great for Central Highlands, the region and it’s great for the industry because it just brings it to the next level.”
Boral collaborated with the project team to develop mix designs and perform placement trials prior to resurfacing the main runway, taxiway and apron bays, reconstructing the general and eastern aprons and refuelling area, and expanding the general apron.
The works were primarily performed at night to enable the airport to return to live operations from 5.30 am each day. The main runway was completed in December 2019.
The works were part of a $16 million upgrade of Emerald Airport’s families.