X Marks the Improved Air Quality Spot

When Portland International Airport’s south runway was closed for rehabilitation in early April, the project team prepared to set up “closing crosses” – large, lighted Xs on either end of the runway that alert aircraft pilots that the runway is not available for landing. The crosses, which are approximately 15 feet high, are on 24-hours a day, seven days a week, until the runway reopens to aircraft later this summer.

The typical power sources for runway cross lights are diesel-powered generators. Renee Dowlin, aviation air quality program manager, and Glen Moe, construction contracts manager, realized that the duration of the runway rehabilitation project meant the generators would run upwards of 3,500 hours each between April and August. Instead, they worked with their Port colleagues to run electrical power out to the runway ends, which ultimately connects the lights to cleaner sources of electricity (the Port purchases 100 percent certified renewable energy credits). Further, the crosses are now connected to back-up power, so in the event the electricity went out, they’d remain on to remind pilots that construction is occurring.

The south runway project is a major airfield endeavor, and Port environmental staff has been closely involved behind the scenes. Construction contracts require the use of ultra-low sulfur diesel in construction equipment, while the project team encourages anti-idling measures and is using two new hybrid escort vehicles.