Alliance Airport: Runway extensions add to economic development story

Fort Worth Alliance Airport

Runway Extension

Location: Fort Worth Alliance Airport

Owner: City of Fort Worth

Operator: Alliance Air Services, a division of Hillwood

- FWBP Digital Partners -

Project Cost: $260 million over 25 years

Funding: FAA Airport Improvement Program; Texas Department of Transportation; North Central Texas Council of Governments; Tarrant County; City of Fort Worth.

Project Scope: Extending two parallel runways to 11,000 feet each. An instrument approach system was added to one runway

Challenge: Relocating 13 miles of rail line and road

- Advertisement -

Timeline: Planning began in 1992; runway construction began in fall 2015; the first runway was completed in March 2017, the second in March 2018.

Prime Contractor: Lane Construction

Design Engineering: Jacobs Engineering

Consulting team: AECOM

- Advertisement -

Geotechnical Engineering: Terracon

Electrical: EAS Contracting

Light Manufacturers: ADB; Siemens; Lumacurve Airfield Signs

Pavement Markings: Stripe-A-Zone

Signage: Lumacurve Airfield Signs

Fort Worth Alliance Airport has completed its runway extension project at the north end of the airport.

It wasn’t an easy job. The $260 million project involved moving about 13 miles of railroad track and about seven miles of a state highway. Those don’t move themselves.

“The runway extension represents another major milestone for AllianceTexas,” said Ross Perot, Jr., chairman of Hillwood. “With the completion of the extended runway, Fort Worth Alliance Airport is better positioned to serve the needs of our customers today and long into the future.”

The expansion will be key to future economic development in the area, say leaders at the airport, billed as the world’s first industrial airport. It will enable long-haul flights to take off with a full load of cargo and fully fueled under almost any weather conditions.

Through the project, Fort Worth Alliance Airport expanded runways 16R/34L, 16L/34R and Taxiway A at the north end of the property from their previous lengths of 8,200 and 9,600 feet to 11,000 feet. By doing so, the project increased air cargo capacity by providing greater flight capabilities.

The airport will be able to handle large aircraft such as the DC10, B747, B787 and AN124. At present, many of the airport’s 125,000 annual flight operations are composed of cargo for users of the Alliance Global Logistics Hub, which include the FedEx Southwest Regional Sort Hub and a number of air cargo charter operations.

“I can’t say for sure that the runway extensions are – by themselves – responsible, but I have seen a wealth of prospective users over last 12 to 18 months,” said Tom Harris, president of Alliance Air Services.

Planning for the runway extensions began as early as 1992, as Hillwood began working with local partners such as the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to coordinate and fund the rerouting of Texas FM 156 and to move a portion of Eagle Parkway.

The airport had to extend the runways north because to the south there was a creek and there were big changes in elevation that direction, Harris said.

Preparation of the site began in 2003, which required the leveling of the site with more than 4 million cubic yards of infill. More than 1.2 million cubic yards of materials were imported specifically for the runway. Construction on the runway project began in 2015, with the first runway, 16R-34L, completed in March 2017 and the second runway, 16L-34R, completed in March 2018.

Funding for the project was supported by the FAA, TxDOT, Tarrant County and the City of Fort Worth. Alliance Air Services, the contract manager for the City of Fort Worth-owned airport, has overseen the project since inception. Jacobs Engineering provided project management services overall, and Virginia-based Lane Construction was the general contractor on the runway extension component.

“At end of the day, it was incredible to get this done and had a lot of help from our partners, such as BNSF in moving the rail line and TxDOT was very supporting in helping us move State Highway 156,” said Harris.

The runway extensions are not the only recent improvements at the airport. The airport opened two new aircraft hangars, more than doubling the amount of hangar space in 2017.

The new hangers are 75 percent occupied, Harris said. “We’re already thinking about another hanger and where that might go,” he said.

The airport also added new services through Hillwood Airways, which received the Part 121 Supplemental Air Carrier certificate from the FAA, authorizing it to provide luxury air transportation options to high-end corporate clients.

“From a North Texas marketing perspective, not too many other communities can offer what we can now offer,” said Harris.

Fort Worth Alliance Airport anchors AllianceTexas, a 26,000-acre, master-planned community in north Fort Worth.

It is an integral component of the Alliance Global Logistics Hub, which also includes BNSF Railway’s Alliance Intermodal Facility, the FedEx Southwest Regional Sort Hub, access to Class I BNSF and UP rail lines and close proximity to the Interstate Highway 35W corridor from Mexico to Canada.

An annual study by Insight Research Corporation reported in February that AllianceTexas has generated approximately $69.08 billion in economic impact from 1990 to 2017, with about $4.73 billion of that economic impact generated in 2017.