SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- After more than a week of more than 2,000 cancelled and delayed flights, San Francisco International Airport officials have announced around the clock work on its main runway would end on Thursday -- a week earlier than originally planned.
Crews have completed the installation of a new base layer and were repaving and repainting the surface layer of the runway. Based on this progress, officials except to reopen all runways by Thursday night.
"I am proud to announce the re-opening of Runway 28L at SFO, ahead of schedule," said Airport Director Ivar C. Satero in press release. "This tremendous accomplishment was made possible by the outstanding collaboration between airport staff, airlines at SFO, the FAA, and our construction partners."
"I would like to acknowledge the inconvenience this work caused to our customers," he continued, "and thank them for their patience during this critical project, which will ensure the long-term reliability of our runway system at SFO."
Since the closure began on Sept. 7th, crews have been working continuously 24 hours per day to create the new base layer for the Runway 28L. Because the previous base layer dates back to the early 1960s, the project team built time into the schedule to allow for unknown conditions below the base layer, which would have required additional excavation and material installation.
"These contingencies were not required," officials said. "As the soil below was found to be stable, allowing crews to move immediately to the installation of a new pavement structure."
Until all runways have reopened, airport officials still were advising travelers to continue to expect delays and potential cancellations and recommends that travelers contact their airline directly for updates.
With input from airlines at SFO, the project team selected the period of September 7-27 for the closure to avoid the busy summer and year-end holiday travel seasons. This timeframe was also chosen for the low probability of precipitation, as dry weather is necessary for asphalt paving.
Still the $16.2 million project made travel in and out of the airport difficult.
For travelers like Sacramento resident Hortencia Morales it meant an agonizing delay.
"For me it's frustrating because I don't deal with change very well and it was a last minute change," she told KPIX 5.
Chris Woolley, who flew in from Las Vegas, said his plane sat on the tarmac for an hour before taking off for San Francisco.
"It was horrible," Woolley said. "We just sat on the plane for an hour, with very little information."
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