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How to Maintain Gravel Runways with Midwest's Fines Preservation Program

By John Burnett on 04/19/2017

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The lifecycle maintenance costs of resurfacing and grading a gravel runway can threaten to break the bank — but fines preservation will double the lifecycle of your runway surface, creating huge long-term cost savings.

Because gravel runways are less costly than their asphalt counterparts, they’re ideal for smaller airports and more remote locations. That being said, gravel runways do require frequent maintenance, and they tend to be located in regions with harsh weather conditions.

Typically, gravel runways are rebuilt once a decade, with a partial rebuild performed every five years — and the cumulative cost of these projects can figure in the millions. Fortunately, fines preservation can effectively eliminate the need to perform routine grading on your gravel runway, keeping your roads safe and stable at a fraction of what you’d normally pay.

Fines Preservation 101

Fines preservation is hands-down one of the most cost-effective ways to maintain the structural integrity of your gravel runway, especially if that runway is subject to heavy traffic or extreme weather. But how do you define this process, and how does it work?

As a road or runway is used, its surface is gradually worn away, and this process creates airborne dust. That dust not only reduces visibility on runways, but more crucially, it’s composed of fines, or the particulate matter that holds your road together — when you see airborne dust, you know your road surface is becoming destabilized, leading to potholes, washboarding, and rutting.

Obviously, all of these structural problems can lead to damaged aircraft and other airport vehicles, which is both costly and bad for business. Add in the costs of rebuilding a gravel runway, which usually involves shipping in new aggregate to replace what’s been lost, and you’ve quickly incurred a whole lot of expenses just from destabilized runways.

As you may have guessed from the name, fines preservation works by locking fines into the road structure to prevent them from coming loose and floating into the air. We at Midwest use our patented, Boeing-approved fluid binders to ensure that fines remain where they belong — incorporated into the structure of your gravel runway.

The benefits of fines preservation are almost too many to name: 80-95% dust control for up to four years, doubled expected lifecycle of a runway surface, improved structural integrity, and huge cost savings, to name a few. Those who worry about the price tag of a good fines preservation program might reconsider when they realize how much they’ll be saving in rebuilding and maintenance costs down the road.

Midwest: Your Trusted Fines Preservation Partner

To cut down on maintenance costs and extend the lifecycle of your gravel runway, you should invest in a fines preservation program that’s custom-built for your site. At Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc., we have decades of experience designing and implementing fines preservation programs for runways all over the world. After we developed a program for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, for instance, they reported maintenance savings of more than $40,000 each year.

Our diverse suite of patented fines preservation products (including EK35® and EnviroKleen®) allows us to effectively lock particulates into the structure of your runway, no matter the specific needs of your site. As an added bonus, heavy traffic on your runway will no longer weaken it — EK35 and EnviroKleen create pavement-like surfaces that are actually strengthened by traffic over time.

If you want to eliminate the tough and costly process of road grading from your weekly maintenance routine, look no further than our long-term fines preservation solutions.

Talk directly with John Burnett at the Northern Air Transport Association’s 41st Annual Conference & Tradeshow on April 26 in Yellowknife, NWT. He and Midwest Founder and CEO Bob Vitale will be presenting on “Innovation in Gravel Runway Surface Management.”

About Author

John Burnett

Written by John Burnett

John Burnett is the Business Manager for the Midwest's Gravel Runway and Village Roads Group. He is experienced in business development and sales operations and management.

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