Duluth International Airport – Taxiway A Reconstruction

Once an aircraft lands at an airport, it utilizes taxiways to travel from the runway to various areas of the airport, including the terminal, aircraft parking and hangars. A Taxiway is a defined path established for the taxiing of aircraft from one part of an airport to another. Often, taxiways are constructed parallel to runways, providing access for aircraft exiting the runway and entering runway ends. DLH has a taxiway (Taxiway A) that parallels the primary Runway 9/27 and a taxiway (Taxiway C) that parallels Runway 3/21. Additional taxiways provide access to other areas of the airfield, including Taxiway B, Taxiway D, and Taxiway F. The existing DLH taxiway network is shown below. 

Taxiway A – Runway 9/27’s Parallel Taxiway

Taxiway A is a full-length parallel taxiway and provides access to both ends of primary Runway 9/27. A parallel taxiway is required on this runway to meet FAA design standards. The taxiway has several connector taxiways that allow aircraft to enter the runway ends for departure and exit the runway after landing. 

Portions of taxiway A were last constructed in 1974 while some portions were last reconstructed in 1985 and 1992. Pavement maintenance projects have occurred throughout the life of the pavement, but it is nearing the end of its useful life. (See the pavement condition blog post for more information on airfield pavement conditions at DLH and the life cycle of pavement).  

What type of aircraft does Taxiway A need to serve, and what should the future Taxiway A look like?

As part of the Master Plan process, a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) was utilized to document the needs of the taxiway system and evaluate alternatives for meeting existing and future needs. The TAC identified several areas of the Taxiway A network that do not meet current FAA design standards. Additional user needs that were documented included improving confusing intersections, maintaining a compass calibration pad, ensuring adequate Airport Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) access, meeting military aircraft needs and the need for Taxiway A to serve large wingspan aircraft. 

FAA taxiway funding is based on the design needs of the civilian critical aircraft that uses the taxiway. This is the aircraft using the taxiway that has at least 500 takeoffs or landings per year. At DLH, an Airbus A-319 is considered the critical aircraft. However, Taxiway A is frequently utilized by civilian aircraft larger than an A-319 and by military aircraft including the F-16 Fighter Jets operated by the 148th Fighter Wing. The TAC recommended that Taxiway A be constructed to ensure all existing aircraft utilizing DLH can continue to utilize the taxiway, even though the FAA may not fund all of the infrastructure needed to meet those needs. 

In order to meet the needs of existing users, the Master Plan recommends that Taxiway A be reconstructed at 75 feet wide (the same as the existing width) and paved shoulders be added (most of Taxiway A does not currently have paved shoulders). The FAA will fund 90% of 50 feet wide of taxiway and 20 feet wide of shoulder pavement. The remaining pavement areas will be funded by DAA and other sources including the 148th Fighter Wing.  

The Master Plan also recommends that some areas of Taxiway A and its connectors be slightly realigned during reconstruction to meet design standards and improve sight lines for both aircraft and the air traffic control tower. The final recommended layout of Taxiway A is shown in Figure 1.

Taxiway A will be reconstructed in multiple phases over multiple years. The final phasing and schedule will be dependent upon FAA, MnDOT, DAA and 148th Fighter Wing funding availability. Phase 1 of Taxiway A reconstruction (the east end) received an FAA grant in summer 2021 and construction will occur in 2022. Construction of the remaining phases will occur in 2023 and beyond.