Crack Sealing at GFK

When you think of North Dakota, most people immediately think of cold. Freezing temperatures, blinding winds, and months of snowstorms are common occurrences here. Extreme weather has a long-term effect on pavement, and here at GFK, we have a lot of pavement! The cold weather causes the ground to contract when it freezes, and in the spring, the ground then expands as it thaws. This heaving of the ground each year causes cracks to form in the pavement. You can imagine what happens when you put freezing cold with a ton of pavement together! But, here at GFK, we have an incredible maintenance team that works hard every year to sustain the lifetime of the runways, taxiways, and aprons. Each spring, a team of maintenance guys takes the tarring kettle out to each and every surface to put hot tar in new and existing cracks in the pavement. This practice takes time, planning, and a good working relationship with Air traffic Control, but its worth it. The more time we can put into helping all our surfaces last longer, the better the runways are for air traffic. I even got to help this summer! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to hang with Kyle, Nate, and Scott from Maintenance, learn about the pavement program, and lay some tar in cracks. The process is quite simple, one person wears “the wand” that shoots out 385-degree tar from the kettle into the cracks and the other two people flattens and smooths the tar with squeegees. On the particular day that I was a part of the maintenance staff, I was at the airport by 4:50 in the morning and we worked through the afternoon, covering all of Taxiway Alpha and a large portion of Runway 9L/27R all in 92-degree heat! It was definitely an adventure, but I was experiencing real life airport work!