SLC Airport Takes a New Approach to Pavement Planning and Maintenance

Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) includes a staggering 1,353 acres of pavement. To keep that massive amount of surface area maintained for operations, it needs to be routinely inspected.

This year, SLC moved to a high-tech solution for its annual pavement inspection. This new process provides the airport with more data to help inform its pavement management plan and future capital improvement projects.

“Before this year, we had employees perform the inspection using just a camera and a van,” said Tony Lau, Salt Lake City Department of Airports engineer. “This new process has far more depth.”

Salt Lake City Department of Airport’s (SLCDA) Design and Construction Management Department contracted with APTech to examine SLC’s pavement and provide a robust data profile for the team to analyze. The company has performed more than 6,000 pavement inspections at airports across the country and has specialized equipment that provides more accuracy and information than a visual inspection alone.

The van APTech uses for the process is worth more than $1 million and includes lasers that precisely measure fissures and cracks as well as surface textures. It’s also equipped with multiple high-resolution cameras at a variety of angles – all of which are tied to GPS. This enables SLCDA engineers to pinpoint the exact location of issues filmed during the inspection.

“Later this year, we’ll be able to review the data in a format similar to Google’s street view where you can click on specific locations and see close up shots of the pavement,” said Lau. “The more data we have, the better we can plan for maintenance.”

Having this robust data gives SLCDA’s engineers a better idea of how pavements are performing and allows a more proactive approach to maintenance.

“This additional data will help us move toward a preservation approach, which is much more cost effective than repairs or replacements,” said Lau. The SLCDA inspects one third of SLC’s pavement each year. During the week-long inspection in June, the crew collected data for approximately 24 million square feet of SLC’s pavement. These routine inspections help ensure the integrity of SLC’s pavement and the safety of airport operations.

The van used by APTech to inspect pavement conditions.
The van used by APTech to inspect pavement conditions.