FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – South Florida is certainly not known for its mountains, but now we have a new one, sort of. It’s a man-made mound that will top out at six stories high and there’s enough dirt packed in here that you could fill Marlins Stadium two and a half times.
“It’s crazy but it’s interesting, very very interesting,” said Broward Resident Stephanie Newkirk, “(It’s) an engineer’s ‘wow!’”
It’s a huge engineering feat and part of the elevated new south runway at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport.
“That 63-feet-high is, it’s a gentle slope to that elevation over about 4,000 feet,” said airport spokesman Allan Siegel. “So it’s not a ski slope, it’s a very gentle slope.”
Two trains a day along with hundreds of trucks bring in fill from West Miami-Dade. This goes on 20 hours a day, 6 days a week. Each week, the mound gets half a foot higher. When it’s done, planes will take off and land up and down hill, right over Federal Highway.
“I think it’s unique,” said driver April Gabriel. “I don’t know of any other city that’s doing it or has it. “
There are a few places that have a similar set up, but not many.
Crews have been pounding thousands of concrete pillars into the ground, they’re the foundation for these huge walls. These walls will create tunnels on Federal highway, planes will go over and cars under.
“You’ll go underneath a small tunnel for the taxiway,” explained Siegel, “then there will be some open sky, then you will go underneath a tunnel for the runway.”
Another big change is at Terminal 4, it’s being re-built, to look something like this, going from 10 to 14 gates and will connect to Terminal 3. That will mean two international terminals.
“By providing the more international gates the airlines will fly to more international cities,” said Siegel, “because right now we’re restricted on the number of international gates.”
Construction of Terminal 4 will be divided into several projects. Construction will begin first on the western end of the terminal, then move east. That whole project will be complete in four years. The runway should be complete by last 2014.
The runway project alone is creating nearly 11,000 new jobs and costs about a million dollars a day. No tax money is being used for the project. Instead, it’s paid for by grants, bonds and airport fees. So far, it is running on time and within the budget.