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Center Runway Reconstruction

The Port of Seattle completed reconstruction of the center runway (designated as 16C/34C) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 2015. The runway, which was originally built in 1969, will have some brief closures during 2016 in order to complete adjoining projects with taxiways and blast pads. Reconstruction will not have major impacts to flight schedules, passenger traffic, or any other airport operations.


The project included installation of a new LED runway lighting system and an automated electronic Foreign Object Debris (FOD) detection system to provide additional safety on the runway. Portions of connecting taxiways were also replaced along with associated electrical, water, and aging storm water infrastructure.

Why Was Reconstruction Needed?

This was the first reconstruction of the runway since it was originally built in 1969. It was designed with a 20-year lifespan and, after nearly 46 years, needed to be replaced. Over the course of the last 20 years, 600+ panels (out of 4,000) have been replaced to keep the runway operational.

How Did the Project Impact Operations? 

​Reconstruction did not impact flight schedules, passenger traffic, or any other airport operations. During the reconstruction all air operations (takeoffs and landings) were directed to the airport’s two
other runways. Nearly 1,000 daily operations occur on the airfield and detailed plans were developed to minimize conflicts between construction activities and aircraft operations.

The construction happened in phases along the runway so as to always have crossing taxiways open on each end of the runway. The FAA, as always, manages the use of the two operational runways.

Center Runway at a Glance

  • Length: 9,426 feet
  • First Built: 1969
  • Project Budget: $95 million
  • Project Cost (est.): $80 million

The project budget is $95 million, but the current project cost is $80 million. The port received $25 million in FAA grants. The remaining funding was allocated from Airport Development Funds and future revenue bonds.



     Additional Project Facts

  • The center runway, 16C/34C, is the oldest runway at Sea-Tac having been built in 1969
  • 16C/34C is 9,426’ in length. (Sea-Tac’s longest runway, 16L/34R is 11,901’ in length and its third runway, 16R/34L, is 8,500’)
  • All three of Sea-Tac’s runways have been constructed or rebuilt within the last seven years. 16R/34L was built in 2008, while 16L/34R was reconstructed in 2009.
  • The design life of the reconstructed center runway is 40 years.
  • The runway surface is made up of 4,000+ concrete panels, each measuring 20’ X 18.75‘. Over the course of the last 20 years, 600+ panels were replaced to keep the runway operational.
  • The existing concrete from the runway was recycled and crushed on site into gravel that was used as the sub-base for the new runway, taxiways, shoulders, and blast pads - more than 300,000 Square Yards (SY) of recycled concrete.
  • Existing asphalt from the shoulders and blast pads was taken to asphalt plants for recycling into new asphalt. The new asphalt on the project contains 20% recycled concrete asphalt.
  • Steel and other metal components, such as dowel bars, are separated for recycling.
  • Over 200,000 SY of new concrete was placed for the new runway.
  • The new runway consists of eight inches of crushed rock sub-base, four inches of asphalt, and 18 inches of Portland cement concrete.
  • Over 16,000 linear feet of new storm drain pipe was also installed.