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GARY — Crews working around the clock are on schedule to complete the rehabilitation of the Gary/Chicago International Airport's main runway May 21, the engineer overseeing the work said Tuesday.

The $7 million project has closed the airport to flights since 10 p.m. May 1, when crews began a project to resurface about 3,300 lineal feet in the central portion of the runway. The concrete will cover more than 68,620 square yards at a depth of 13 inches.

"The project we're doing now — it's enormous," said Steve Sandefur, construction and field services manager for the airport's main engineering firm, NGC. "It's a lot of work for a very short period of time."

On Tuesday, crews were pouring more than 4,000 cubic yards of concrete, carried by more than 400 trucks from a temporary plant across Airport Road from the airport.

This year's work completes the transition of the full runway to concrete, which is more durable than asphalt and allows heavier aircraft to use the airport. One end of the 8,859-foot runway was redone last year; the other end is the runway expansion completed in 2015. 

The project contractor is Superior Construction, with subcontractors including Walsh & Kelly, C. Lee Construction, Ozinga, Midwest Electric and Rogers Electric.

The "new" runway is 13 inches higher than the original runway. The electrical work includes raising runway lighting to the new height. Asphalt work includes bridging the gaps between the runway and taxiways.

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Plans call for the runway to reopen at 6 a.m. May 21.

East Corporate Hangar

Construction of a new corporate hangar, to be occupied by airport tenant Sage-Popovich, is also nearing completion. The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority on Tuesday approved a contract for security fencing totaling nearly $70,000 and for an interior overhead door for about $8,400. It also approved change order with a net effect of adding almost $53,000 to the project.

The change orders are the result of a need to install pump to be used in case of fire. The building would not have had adequate water flow and pressure without them, according to airport adviser Dan Vicari. The installation of the pumps necessitates a variety of other changes to various construction contracts.

"It just triggers a whole bunch of other issues," Vicari said. He said the need for the pump wasn't known until the company handling the fire suppression was brought in to begin its work at the new hangar.

Water volume and pressure has been an issue at other facilities, airport officials said, including the Boeing hangar and the Indiana National Guard headquarters, both of which installed water tanks at their buildings.

The hangar project is on track to cost about $2.5 million.

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Assistant Deputy Editor

Andrew covers transportation, real estate, casinos and other topics for The Times business section. A Crown Point native, he joined The Times in 2014, and has more than 15 years experience as a reporter and editor at Region newspapers.