One of the most intricate and demanding projects that we have ever pursued at the Atlanta Airport is the 9L End Around Taxiway project. Both CWM and McCarthy Improvement bid on the job back in 2021; however, MCI was successful at being the low bidder. Once the acquisition transpired, we inherited the project and its numerous challenges. There are not many projects at the Atlanta Airport that build new construction, but End Around took some existing parking on the south side of the Airport and put a taxiway through it.
Typically, where a taxiway intersects a runway, planes have to stop and wait while landings or takeoffs are occurring on the runway. The term “End Around” comes from the layout of the new Taxiway allowing planes to taxi “around” the “end” of an active runway while other planes are taking off. This speeds up taxi times from the runway to the terminal, reducing the time and cost of fuel waiting. It also improves the customer experience with shorter times from landing to gate. The Airport’s General Manager “B” states that this will save the airlines tens of millions of dollars every year.
From the start, End Around had a tight if not impossible schedule. On top of that, there were literally miles of walls to build, pipe to put in, electrical to install, and concrete paving to put down. Even more of a challenge was the hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of embankment in multiple stages and subject to daily weather impacts. CWM relied on the crews from a minority partner subcontractor to place all the embankment and maintain drainage on the site. Through constant monitoring and communication by CWM supervision, a little assistance in the heat of the battle, and some good old fashioned, Jeff Bell style, “fussin’ and fighting” the project achieved an unbelievable opening milestone of November 1, 2022.
One of the more impressive backgrounds to the City of Atlanta Mayor’s ribbon cutting on the project was the retaining and blast walls constructed by our concrete setup crews and some of the smoothest concrete paving at the Airport on the new “Taxiway Whiskey” all with concrete batched by our Sullivan Road plant crews. Frankly, I wasn’t sure how a 9” wide and 18 ft tall wall could even be built given the tight rebar spacing and narrow form opening, much less to the quality that was going to be required by the Airport. Each of the setup crews, concrete laydown crews, and plant crews put in a tremendous amount of hard work to keep the walls and paving on schedule, all while staying flexible with obstacles in their way. There aren’t too many people in construction that have to worry about emergency flights coming in from overseas requiring cranes to boom down stopping work for hours at a time. Our guys stayed the course and maintained a professional work ethic that is second to none. We truly have some of the best people in the world here at CWM and the world’s busiest airport. These crews not only amazed me, but the Airport senior management and design engineers took note of what a great job the crews did. Hats off to everyone involved on End Around.
Probably the most special moment in my career so far was the opportunity to recognize the hard work of one of the greatest men to ever put on a CWM hardhat, Mr. Buddy Jump. The day before the Mayor’s ribbon cutting for the opening of Taxiway Whiskey, we planned a private gathering and food truck to surprise Buddy with the enormous honor of his own permanent plaque at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport within the infrastructure he helped develop. This is a honor only ever bestowed to three other men besides Buddy. Under some carefully and secretively planned concrete and bronze installation, and the false pretenses of a Buddy “butt-chewing” meeting by the Airport Deputy General Manager, Frank, we pulled off a wonderful surprise enjoyed by Buddy and some of his closest friends and co-workers in the industry. His plaque sits on the shoulder of the newly built Taxiway Whiskey directly under the centerline of takeoff runway 9L/27R. Odds are, if you take off out of Atlanta headed just about anywhere, you will pass over-top of Buddy’s plaque on your way out. His dedication and commitment to the cause for 52+ years will never be forgotten.