Construct Taxiway Lima and Taxiway Lima Bridge
OWNER: MidAmerica St. Louis Airport
PROJECT FIRM: Crawford, Murphy & Tilly
OTHER CONSULTANTS: HNTB, Gonzalez Companies, EFK Moen, SCI Engineering, Plocher Construction
DESCRIPTION: The MidAmerica St. Louis Airport Taxiway Lima Extension and Bridge project stands as a remark-able feat of engineering innovation and adaptability. This project involved the construction of a 419x171-ft bridge to facilitate the passage of the new taxiway over a stream, a rare and distinctive infrastructure requirement in the aviation industry. While a standard highway bridge is designed to carry the load of 80,000-pound truck, the Taxiway Lima bridge would need to safely carry aircraft weighing over 400,000 pounds. To ensure safety and functionality, a prestressed concrete bridge was chosen over steel due to cost-effectiveness and low maintenance requirements, and it was designed to meet both customary structural standards and FAA requirements for taxiway pavements. The new taxiway bridge is needed so that aircraft can access a new 300,000 sq-ft facility that the Boeing Company is building to manufacture the U.S. Navy’s MQ-25 Stingray, an aerial refueling drone. It is part of a $200 million investment the company is making at the airport over the next 15 years. Despite initial industry challenges when it was built in 1997, MidAmerica St. Louis Airport has evolved into a significant asset for the Metro East region, creating jobs and injecting revenue into the area economies. The project also showcases the pioneering use of solar power, reducing grid connection costs and minimizing the airport’s carbon footprint. Due to the site’s remote location, connecting to the electrical grid to power the lighting, control and security systems would have been costly. The off-grid solar power system was installed to reduce capital cost to bring electric service and to provide renewable energy with no operating cost. It serves as a case study on how the use of solar energy at airports can advance from the landside facilities out into the airfield. Numerous complexities were addressed, including mitigating wetlands, navigating flood-prone areas, and securing permits from relevant authorities. The project team’s resilience in the face of unexpected conditions demonstrated their efficiency in handling challenges. Despite historic rainfall during construction, the project was successfully completed, exceeding client expectations and providing a cost-effective solution. The project not only achieved its client’s goals but also incorporated additional improvements, positioning the airport for future growth and economic development. This project serves as a shining example of how an airport can be a driving force for economic prosperity and infra-structure growth.