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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | March 10, 2022

Always Ready: 316th CES Repairs Taxiway Sinkhole in Record Time

By Airman 1st Class Bridgitte Taylor 316th Wing Public Affairs

On June 14, 2021, Joint Base Andrews experienced a large thunderstorm that created a sinkhole and partially collapsed Taxiway Echo. This required the 316th Civil Engineer Squadron to swiftly perform an emergency response to restore the taxiway to fully mission capable on a sensitive military installation responsible for presidential-level operations.

“Projects like this can take one to two years to complete on Air Force installations, and our team completed it in only six months from the discovery of the sinkhole,” said Lt. Col. Ross Dotzlaf, 316 CES commander. “It involved substantial obstacles, extensive coordination and dedicated efforts from numerous entities - all within a rushed timeline. This was an incredibly heavy civil engineering effort, and I could not be prouder of our team’s ability to respond to this mission-critical repair. ”

To begin the repair, 316 CES developed a scope of work, determining the need to replace 80 feet of 7-foot diameter corrugated storm drainage pipe, along with a brick mortared manhole originally built in the 1940s. The storm drain had to be replaced with reinforced concrete pipe, requiring an excavation depth up to 30 feet and steel sheet shoring to stabilize the soil and dam the groundwater.

After assessing the damage and estimating all costs, 316 CES began to source funds for the project, which were ultimately provided by the Air Force Installation Mission Support Center. After funding was acquired, the unit initiated a contract through the base’s Simplified Acquisition for Base Engineer Requirements contractor on July 16th.

While project proposals were being reviewed, the Engineering Flight expeditiously worked through obtaining Federal Aviation Administration approval, along with necessary waivers, permits, concrete and asphalt mix designs, and ramp freeze contingency plans. Thanks to 316 CES’ preparations, the contract was awarded in just six days.

Before construction, 316 CES took multiple measures to ensure the groundwater would be free from past contaminants by discharging the water and passing it through a sand filter onto a previous surface where it was absorbed by the ground before returning to its source. It became top priority to mitigate environmental impacts and follow regulations in Maryland Stormwater Management Guidelines for state and federal projects.

Since the storm occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest concerns throughout the project was extended delivery times, including a 7-foot diameter reinforced concrete pipe that was estimated to arrive weeks after its original delivery date. Due to the squadron’s pre-planning, the pipe was pre-ordered before the initial contract was awarded so wait times were significantly decreased.

Construction began on September 21st, and concerns shifted to weather and holiday preparations. While the contractors worked to stabilize the subbase, 316 CES multitasked to expedite a concrete mix design that complied with the American Society of Testing Materials standards and U.S. Air Force requirements for aggregates and compressive strength. 

Concrete pours were scheduled for December 1st and extended over three days. All in all, the pouring process took 18 vehicles, 20 personnel and approximately 180 cubic yards of concrete. Asphalt shoulders and placement of taxiway lighting followed shortly, finalizing the details of the project. The taxiway was officially back in service on Jan. 12, 2022.

“The 316th did an amazing job of restoring America’s Airfield at Joint Base Andrews with minimal impact to the mission,” said Mr. Thomas Mieczkowski, 316 CES engineering flight chief.  “The coordination and communication efforts executed to complete the entire project within six months’ time are astounding.”