Gravel Runways, Fines Preservation, and Environmental Impact

In EK35®, Fines Preservation®, Gravel Runway by John Burnett

There are over 15,000 airports in the U.S. alone, each of which features several runways. Maintaining runways is critical for safe travel and environmental conservation.

Of all the airports in the U.S., about 5000 have paved runways, according to the CIA. That leaves at least 10,000 that rely on gravel or other runway materials to ensure that all flights take off and land safely. Besides the exorbitant cost of replacing aircraft materials, there is also a very real human risk associated with unsatisfactory maintenance and unsafe conditions.

Fortunately, constructing and maintaining high-quality gravel runways proves to be more cost-effective and efficient in the long run than cutting corners with paved runways, like over-emphasizing cosmetic work to eliminate potholes or uneven sections.

From fine particle air pollution to changes in water and soil composition, not properly treating and compressing runways with regularity can result in significant negative consequences for the environment.

Runways are subject to regulation by the EPA, and, if not properly treated and maintained, the government may well slap owners with a hefty fine. However, well-built gravel runways can be environmentally responsible. Fines preservation addresses some of these concerns.

Effective Construction and Maintenance

The best way to create and maintain good gravel runways is to take a fully comprehensive approach. That means, first of all, hiring experts and contractors who specialize in runway construction to ensure that the job is done correctly.

Properly constructing or treating gravel runways also requires qualified engineers on the project who can anticipate every need and successfully identify the right combination of products. Factors to consider include, but are not limited to, strength requirements, dust level reduction, general safety, air quality, and maintenance costs.

The right assortment of products will vary between situations. The multiple options that exist for gravel runway treatment and construction provide an excellent opportunity to eliminate environmental and/or safety concerns. It’s important to have a team who will work with airport staff personally and directly throughout this entire process.

In a practical world, there are two options: One, maintain the runway as is through fines preservation for as long as it’s practical. Or two, rework the runway and preserve the new runway surface for the next 10 to 20 years with fines preservation. Midwest provides the best life-cycle performance and cost effectiveness, regardless of the option you choose.

The Best Team for the Job

Fines preservation, utilizing U.S. EPA-verified and Boeing-approved EnviroKleen® and EK35®, represents much more than dust control applied for the sake of satisfying regulatory expectations. It is a critical component of any airport infrastructure, a way to keep costs down by reducing wear and tear on vehicles, and a crucial aspect of keeping both passengers and pilots safe. This necessary part of airport maintenance should figure into every airport’s budget.

Midwest’s comprehensive approach guarantees fines preservation and dust control on any surface, including gravel runways, and is the best way to create and maintain efficient, safe airports.