Runway Shortening and Bullseye Removal

Quad Cities International Airport | Moline, IL

Hitting bullseyes is great when playing darts, but on airfields, it’s better to avoid them. Quad Cities International Airport (MLI) was one of only a few airports in the United States to have a bullseye configuration caused by three runways intersecting in the middle of the airfield. In addition to the obvious safety and incursion concerns, the layout also resulted in long and sometimes confusing taxi routes to and from the runways. As the airport’s consultant since 2003, CMT was tasked with improving airfield safety by removing the non-standard intersection while minimizing impact to users, both during and after construction.

By shortening MLI’s general aviation runway from 5,000 ft. to 3,500 ft., it could be decoupled from the two commercial runways and that traffic safely removed from the intersection. Before proceeding with this option, the project team made sure that GA users knew that the shorter runway length was still more than adequate for their needs.

FAA was originally reluctant to provide funding for this proposed improvement, preferring that MLI simply shut down its GA runway. By including other fundable items into the project – including simplifying the airfield’s geometry and improvements to sewer lines, lighting, signing and navigational aids – CMT was able to justify preservation of the runway at a reduced length and assisted the airport with receipt of a $10 million grant to perform the work. To keep costs down and add a sustainable element to the work, the PCC pavement removed from the GA runway was reused as a base course for other pavement improvements.

The major challenge of the solution was developing a construction phasing plan for a project that would impact almost the entire airfield. To minimize disruption to operations, construction within the bullseye took place during overnight hours so that the four commercial airlines that service MLI could maintain their schedules unabated. In addition, the team overcame challenges related to disrupted supply chains and needing to pour concrete during an intense heatwave. Work was completed in December of 2022.

Project Contact(s)

Travis Strait, PE