Salt Cay airport - Airside Improvements

WSP was retained by the Turks and Caicos Islands Airport Authority for our services in engineering and onsite inspection to assess and evaluate the existing airside infrastructure and propose, design and manage a cost-effective rehabilitation of these facilities in accordance with international design standards and practices.



Location

  • Salt Cay island, Turks and Caicos, British Overseas Territory

Project Value

  • 5 M US$

Project Status

  • Complete

Awards

  • Ontario Consulting Engineering Awards (OCEA) Award of Merit

Salt Cay Airport is a small domestic airdrome that serves Salt Cay, the smallest island in the Turks and Caicos Archipelago. WSP was retained by the Turks and Caicos Islands Airport Authority (TCIAA) for our services in professional engineering and onsite inspection for the airport’s airside improvement project to enhance safety during a tight timespan. WSP’s multidisciplinary team was tasked to assess and evaluate the existing airside infrastructure and propose, design and manage a cost-effective rehabilitation of the airside facilities.

The project involved the reconstruction of a 799m b 18m Code 1 runway, a taxiway and the main apron, which included:

  • Utilizing a 65mm hot mix asphaltic concrete surface
  • Installing new airfield lighting
  • Construction of a new Field Electrical Center
  • Site preparation and earthworks
  • Removal of the existing perimeter fence
  • Construction of the new airport perimeter fence
  • Drainage pipe installation
  • Equipment and staff mobilization to Salt Cay Airport

 

Unique challenges

The project entailed a tight timeframe, harsh environmental challenges and a unique set of limitations involving the procurement of materials and supplies, a small resource pool of island-based skilled labour and mobilization of staff to the work location. As the airport was closed during construction, the only method of transporting the aforementioned materials was via shipping services, which in itself was extremely complex.

Procuring materials such as asphalt aggregate, oil, fencing, and normal Portland cement was challenging for numerous reasons: the materials needed to be delivered to an approved offloading location in Salt Cay, which was often severely damaged by the high and rough sea conditions. Consequently, the damage then required reconstruction, which involved working with adverse island terrain and wet conditions that made construction difficult. Furthermore, when equipment malfunctioned or failed, the time spent on receiving the required tools resulted in lost labour hours. The combination of these challenges resulted in the disruption of shipping services, cancellation of approximately 15% of schedule deliveries and project delays.

The project was shut down several times during hurricane season to ensure the safe and timely evacuation of all staff. It was also critical for the construction equipment to be secured or dismantled until it was safe to proceed with the reconstruction. WSP approached the project with the understanding that hurricanes would be a substantial source of delay and considered the implications involved during the cost estimation, design and construction phases.

Economic, Social and Environmental Benefits

WSP understands that an airport brings much more than just economic development. Salt Cay’s small community of 100 people relies heavily on tourism as its economic engine. Without a functional and upgraded airport, tourism would be limited and disrupt the local economy. We are proud to have provided professional engineering and contract administration services that delivered a positive impact on the surrounding community’s social and economic quality of life.