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McClellan-Palomar Airport Runway Renovation

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The McClellan-Palomar Airport runway rehabilitation is now complete and the airport is fully operational. Thanks to airport tenants, passengers, and others who utilize and visit Palomar Airport.  

Watch the two-minute video of Palomar Airport Runway Construction

Here are photos of some of the runway construction.

Heavy equipment on the Palomar Airport runway






The Palomar Airport runway is stripped away, asphalt recycled and the base prepared for re-paving


 Runway asphalt is ground up for recycling




The old runway asphalt is ground up and mixed with oil and cement to be used again.


  runway is prepared for paving





 Workers prepare the runway for re-paving. 



Runway paving just about complete





Asphalt laid down, workers pave the edges.  






Approximately 5,000 feet of runway, 23 inches thick




The runway at McClellan-Palomar Airport (CRQ) needed to be renovated. Ground testing had determined the potential for failure of the supporting soils and pavement surface, which could have resulted in catastrophic failure of the runway. The last resurfacing of the airport runway was a two-inch layer of asphalt done about 15 years ago.

The runway at Palomar AirportCounty Airports had planned to do the approximately 5,000-foot runway in five phases of 1,000 feet each, but originally had funding only for the first two phases – 2,000 feet. The airport would close for construction of one phase, reopen for one week, and then close for another phase of runway renovation to avoid an extended closure of runway operations. Companies were invited to bid on the first two phases of this project, with supplemental bids for any or all of the remaining three phases to be completed as funds became available. In late August 2009, the Federal Aviation Administration came forward with funding for the entire project, provided a contract was awarded by September 30, end of the fiscal year. Rather than delay the project by rewriting bid proposals and project specifications and then going back out to bid, and thus risk losing the FAA funding, it was decided to proceed with the bid proposals as written, but complete all five phases of construction in the contract as previously outlined. Five construction companies bid on the project with the winning bid submitted by Hazard Construction

The Process:

The contractor dug up up the old asphalt and concrete runway, ground up the material and processed it on-site to be recycled for the new surface. A new six-inch layer of asphalt was placed on top of 12 inches of cement-treated soil to give it added strength. Then, another five-inch layer of asphalt was placed on top of that, resulting in a new runway 23 inches thick. The project did NOT add a second runway to McClellan-Palomar Airport, or any extension of the existing runway - it was merely the much needed renovation of the current 5,000-foot runway from the ground up. Projected life span of the new runway is 20 years. A schematic showing the various layers of the new runway is available here.


Any closure of an airport runway impacts the air-traveling public, the fixed base operators (FBOs) and other airport tenants. To help offset this inconvenience and loss of revenue for airport lease holders, County Airports granted free aircraft parking at its other airports including Gillespie Field, Ramona Airport, and Fallbrook Airpark. The County Board of Supervisors also approved a two-month rent moratorium during the construction period. Additionally, the conference center at the County Airports administration building was available to conduct business and on-site meetings.

The possibility of necessary closures for various reasons, including critical capital improvements and major maintenance, such as the runway renovation, is documented in each airport operator’s master lease. Additionally, all FBOs and tenants at Palomar Airport were given a four-month advance notice of this work.

The NEW McClellan-Palomar Airport:

McClellan-Palomar Airport recently completed other major improvements, among them a new 18,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art terminal with new high-tech passenger and baggage screening areas, a spacious lobby and boarding lounge, and easy passenger access via a new elevator and walkway from three new parking lots. A new restaurant called "The Landings" has also opened at the airport.

With the new terminal and renovated 5,000-foot runway, McClellan-Palomar Airport is one of the most modern airports in the country - an airport that the citizens of Carlsbad and all of San Diego County can be proud of, and one of the finest bases for aviation business on the west coast.