One Possible Solution
When the Hurricane Creek tunnel was installed in 1985 it was never intended to support the weight and air traffic loads of the most heavily used runway in the world. This was no one’s fault. No one could have foreseen the growth of FedEx Express and how extensive the fleet’s use of Runway 9/27 would become.
The tunnel is a 60 foot wide, 14 foot tall “box culvert” or drainage canal constructed to carry Hurricane Creek water beneath the airfield north to the Nonconnah Creek . The three 10 inch wide interior walls were never intended to serve as primary bridge supports. To prevent Runway 9/27 from complete collapse into the tunnel it will be necessary to remove the section of the runway directly above the tunnel. Install a bridge span similar to the bridge shown in the photograph below which is already in place for airfield vehicle traffic and spans the open culvert just south of the tunnel’s south entrance (see photo below).
This type of bridge should be incorporated beneath Runway 9/27. The bridge would be a layer between the runway and the top of the tunnel and remove all excess weight from the tunnel’s ceiling. This solution will not only safeguard the runway from collapse during a mid to large scale earthquake, it will also allow for any future tunnel maintenance to be performed without affecting the runway.
In simplest terms the runway and tunnel will be disconnected which means Runway 9/27 will no longer be dependent upon the tunnel for support.
Red arrows mark the vehicle bridge spanning the Hurricane Creek culvert. You can see the tunnel’s south entrance in the background.
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This documentation and the author, Guy Cobb, are protected by the United States Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 Section 806 -- Protection for Employees of Publicly Traded Companies Who Provide Evidence of Fraud; the False Claims Act; the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act For the 21st Century (AIR21) Public Law 106-181, April 5, 2000 49 USC Section 42121 Subchapter III – Whistleblower Protection Program and the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act, Article 4 Section 1553.