Local News

Runway At Pope Air Force Base To Be Closed For 30 Days

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. — At Pope Air Force Base, planes and their crews are taking off. They will not be landing back there for about a month. The runway is shutting down to be repaved.

"We want to repair the damage before it gets to be as bad as this parking lot, for example, where asphalt has deteriorated and rocks break loose. Rocks of this size, sucked up into an aircraft, can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage," base engineer Lt. Col. Jim Welter said.

With the war on terrorism underway, soldiers could deploy at a moment's notice. Engineers said the work just could not be put off. Together with the Army, they determined this month would have the least impact on operations.

Contigency plans are now in place for training and in case of a call to action. Planes could take off from Camp MacKall in Moore County, where troops often train. They could send troops by bus to another military base or even have them deploy from a training field.

Fayetteville Regional Airport is also stepping in. Military planes could share the runways with commercial ones.

"We feel our arrangements with the military will coincide with our commercial traffic, I think, without any difficulty," airport director Brad Whited said.

Crews will be working around the clock to get the repairs finished. At the height of construction, they will be laying 3,300 tons of asphalt a day, which is like paving a three-mile stretch every day for two weeks.