This is a guest post by Chairman of the Tourism Association, Vince Thompson. He provides us with the latest information on the construction of St Helena airport, accompanied by pictures from the site.
The airport is now really starting to take shape. As the fill in Dry Gut rises ever closer to the finish level more work is being done on the airport itself. Basil Read’s Island Director gave The Independent/Saint FM a tour of the airport site this week. The tour started at the car park where an area large enough to park 250 cars is being prepared for the concrete paver to lay the final surface. At the south end of the runway there is a 400-metre section that is almost ready for the various sub-surface and surface layers required to provide a safe and solid runway for planes to land and take-off.
Over one million cubic metres of stone aggregate is needed to provide the sub-bases for the runway, car park, apron and several other areas. The ground at the north end of the runway is still having the high points levelled off and the low points filled in. The Dry Gut now has over seven million cubic metres of fill compacted into it! There are now just seven more metres to go before the finish level is reached.
At the other end of the runway 190,000 cubic metres of fill is required to bring an area of low ground to the runway level. Overall, the runway is an average of 30 metres below the original ground level. Reducing the level has so far taken over 300 blasting operations and used 4,000 tonnes of explosive. There is just one remaining big blasting operation left; at the north end of the runway a large rock outcrop will be blasted away and the shattered rock used as fill in Dry Gut. All earthworks are due to be completed by the end of this year.
In the New Year work at the airport will concentrate on finishing the airport buildings, finishing the installation of runway lighting and getting the technical equipment already installed in the Control Tower in full running order. There will also be a lot of work in getting the surfacing of everything from the runway to the car park finished. Running parallel to this work will be the various parts of the certification process, the Disaster Management Plan and the enactment of required but outstanding legislations. The airport terminal should be completed by July next year. In a few weeks we will be reporting on progress at Rupert’s Wharf.