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Kona airport closed again because of runway crack

KAILUA-KONA, Hawai‘i — Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport closed for the third time this year after a crack in the runway was discovered on Friday morning.

State Department of Transportation spokesman Russell Pang said the crack was first discovered at 8:23 a.m., and the decision to close the runway came at 9:40 a.m.

At 10:15 a.m., the DOT announced the temporary closure of the airport while crews worked to patch a crack in the lone runway.

Nine flights were impacted, including one that was diverted to O‘ahu. The airport resumed operations at noon.

According to the DOT, visual inspections of the runway are performed daily. Engineers from the department and Federal Aviation Administration officials inspected it Thursday. However, the crack formed overnight, with rain being considered a factor.

Crews from Jas. W. Glover were scheduled to continue additional pavement repairs starting at 12:30 a.m. until 5 a.m. this morning.

The DOT said paving activities are needed to establish a more long-term repair solution to the crack.

Since there are no other runways at Kona airport, flight operations were suspended during the overnight repairs. Helicopter services were available for emergency medical situations. There are no commercial flights scheduled during the closure period.

The airport also was closed on Jan. 15 and Feb. 13 because of cracks discovered on the runway.

In January, the airport closed for more than 13 hours after multiple cracks and holes were discovered.

At that time, DOT Director Ed Sniffen said he was comfortable that the repair would last through the construction project.

“This comes right on the verge of pushing out our $120 million construction project, reconstructing the entire 11,000-foot runway, starting August or September this year. It will take a couple of years to complete. The timing was unfortunate, but we are happy we made the decision to fix it rather than pushing it to potential safety issues for our airlines,” he said in January.

From Feb. 8 – 27, DOT closed the runway from midnight to 6 a.m. for proactive paving. However, on Feb 13, the airport closed for eight hours due to equipment malfunction and asphalt cooling after overnight paving.

The February closure resulted from the breakdown of the shuttle buggy that transfers the paving material. The contractor brought another in.

However, the asphalt that was brought to the site had cooled to the point it could not be used, therefore additional asphalt needed to be produced at the Waimea plant and trucked to the site.

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Reporter Laura Ruminski can be reached at lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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