August 2, 2023
By Lane Kimble
MOSINEE, Wis. — Most job sites that Nate Swanke drives onto don’t require special authorized clearance through securely locked gates, but this one does for good reason.
“It’s definitely weird the first time you come on the runway, it feels like you shouldn’t be there,” Swanke told WTBA during a site visit this summer. “There’s planes taking off as close as 100-some feet behind our equipment.”
Swanke is project manager on Michels Road and Stone’s Central Wisconsin Airport work in Mosinee. Crews are moving and rebuilding one of CWA’s two runways, removing 230,000 yards of dirt and paving concrete 15 inches thick.
It’s a different kind of job; one that Swanke knows requires the precision his teams can provide.
“Roads are extremely important but when there’s 200, 300-thousand-pound airplanes landing on what we’re building, you just make sure to take the extra 30 seconds to make sure everything’s perfect because I don’t want to be responsible for something failing when a plane’s trying to take off or land on it,” Swanke said.
The 20-year-old runway was actually in good shape. This project is more about safety than rehabilitation. The old runways used to form a “T” intersection, meaning planes often needed to taxi on the other runway.
“It created a wrong runway departure risk. It sounds crazy but it’s happened. Across the country there have been tragic accidents,” CWA Assistant Director Mark Cihlar explained.
Watch the video (above) to find out how Michels crews are improving safety, the other features of the project, and how Cihlar views their work.