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Modernizing an Airport Terminal

Modernizing an Airport Terminal

New structures at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport were constructed of reinforced concrete, structural masonry, structural steel moment frames, and metal decking.

Phoenix Sky Harbor expands to improve customer service.

As one of Arizona’s main transportation hubs, the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has experienced significant growth and expansion in the last five years. To meet the needs of its nearly 40 million passengers annually, the airport is working to improve services for its airlines and travelers.

The original terminal was built in 1979 and needed improvements to keep the airport competitive. The most recent work involved a $590 million design-build expansion to the existing Terminal 3, which includes a new customer processing terminal, South Concourse, and enhancements to the North Concourse. The existing South Concourse of Terminal 3 was razed, and a 15-gate concourse was constructed to replace the previous structure. The makeover also included adding windows throughout the facility and even a new garden and dog park — all to bring a more open and modern experience to its visitors. The new structures were constructed of reinforced concrete, structural masonry, structural steel moment frames, and metal decking.

To help in the expansion, Terracon’s experienced aviation and construction inspection team provided quality assurance consulting, as well as structural steel, spray-applied fire resistive materials, and nondestructive testing services on various building components.

Terracon’s certified welding and nondestructive inspectors observed and tested 100 percent of the connections.

Depth of services differentiates

For this signature project, Terracon initially provided materials testing for the City of Phoenix Aviation Department as part of the quality assurance team during construction. Terracon provided an experienced aviation technician to perform compaction verification, concrete and grout sampling, and construction observation. Earthwork was monitored for lift thickness, fill material, and suitability and tested for compliance to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) compaction specifications using sand cone test methodology.

Due to extreme daytime temperatures in the region, most concrete placements occurred during the evening and early morning hours. Each delivery of concrete to the site was logged and verified for proper mix design and suitability for the placement. Concrete was field tested for temperature and slump, and samples were made for compressive strength verification.

Having onsite knowledge and expertise with respect to FAA specifications, materials, and typical construction practices during airport construction was an immediate benefit to the owner and contractor. In addition, our local staff was also well versed with the City of Phoenix requirements, which enhanced communication and kept the project moving forward without unnecessary delays.

During initial scope development, the airport team noted the project would require visual welding inspection and ultrasonic testing of the moment connections for the structural steel welding construction. Based on the project needs, Terracon provided two experienced welding inspectors certified Level II through the American Welding Society for nondestructive testing procedures. Nondestructive observation and testing on this project included visual, magnetic particle, and ultrasonic testing. Terracon provided the structural engineer, contractor, and owner with steel erection observation reports during the construction of columns, beams, and moment frames for the new, two-story structure.

Welding procedures, welding electrodes, certification of welding personnel, and fit-up were verified during steel and welding construction. For moment connections, Terracon’s certified welding and nondestructive inspectors observed and tested 100 percent of the connections. This included a visual weld examination of each weld moment connection for size and length measurement.

Following measurements of the welds, ultrasonic testing was conducted. Ultrasonic testing equipment was used to scan each weld for indications of defects in the welded connection. This is a critical step because welds can often appear acceptable by visual observation, but beneath the surface may have weaknesses in the structural material, including inclusions, lack of side-wall fusion, weld root penetration, porosity, or cracks.

Terracon also performed special inspection of high-strength bolting connections associated with the South Concourse construction. This included pre-installation verification testing using a calibrated Skidmore-Wilhelm device on a selection of bolts for each diameter and length of bolt supplied.

During erection and bolting of the various connections, the fraying surfaces of slip-critical connections were inspected prior to assembly of the joint, and bolts were observed to be pretensioned after installation. Visual verification of completed tension-control bolts were observed and documented.

During placement of spray-applied fire-resistive materials on columns and the underside of steel decking, Terracon provided ICC-certified spray-applied fireproofing special inspectors to verify that construction met project requirements. Inspection included observation of the substrate prior to application of the materials to confirm it was properly cleaned.

After application, Terracon performed routine thickness verification of the fireproofing material. Random samples of the fire-resistive materials were collected from the structural members and tested in the laboratory to evaluate whether the density of the material applied met the minimum project requirements. Bond strength of the material was also tested using specialized field testing equipment.

Reporting adds value

During construction, Terracon attended several meetings to ensure that the contractor, client, and other parties all agreed on inspection methodology, identification and communication of construction defects, and schedule. Terracon provided onsite communication and verbal verification of inspection results. These were followed by daily reports and test data, including location descriptions and photos, which were rapidly shared with the project team. Most reports were delivered within 24 hours after performing the service.

This process allowed the design and construction team to quickly confirm that the information produced met project specifications and allowed the contractor to perform minor rework as necessary without losing time. Terracon tracked all non-conformances separately in a deviation log as the work continued, keeping all outstanding non-conformities at a high attention level to all concerned parties.

As airports throughout the United States prepare for update and expansion, Terracon continues to offer comprehensive services and solutions for facilities of all sizes. With a national footprint, we already serve many large and regional airports from our local offices. Our aviation team is well-versed with FAA specifications, International Building Code requirements, and specific reporting requirements, and is ready to assist with any construction facility needs.

Tracy Grover is a principal and regional manager in Terracon’s (www.terracon.com) Phoenix office. He is the current chair of the American Concrete Institute Committee 311, Inspection of Concrete, a registered Special Inspector, and has extensive experience in airport construction, special inspection, materials testing, and quality assurance. He has provided consulting for airport and airfield projects in Washington, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Guam.