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You Can Rebuild a Taxiway in 6 Hours? No Way!


If you think building a taxiway is hard, just multiply the difficulty by two and you’re mentally getting closer to imagining how difficult it actually is. It is one of the most grueling, painstaking, and precise construction jobs ever.

First, the construction crew has to jackhammer the existing asphalt over an area about the size of two tennis courts. Then, they have to remove a 20-inch depth of old tarmac. And that’s just getting started.

Meanwhile, the crew manager knows that the first plane will touch down at 6 o’clock am. He also knows that he has to start laying the asphalt six hours in advance of the first plane’s arrival, so the runway will be hard enough for the plane to land on. So he uses a type of asphalt that cools and sets at twice the rate of your average highway asphalt.

The workers know they have only about eight hours to complete this gigantic job. The work must be done with great speed but not haste. About 375 tons of gravel has to be placed, to prevent water damage through the soil. Then the gravel has to be smoothed perfectly flat. Then the asphalt has to be poured. As the asphalt sets, the workers call in the heavy duty roller trucks to finish the job. Then the asphalt still needs one more hour to set.

This crew has finished in six hours a job that would take most road crews six months to complete. (I kid!)

That’s pretty impressive!

This post was originally posted by The Smithsonian Channel on YouTube.

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