The County of San Diego experienced some remarkable achievements in its Public Works Department last year. Among the work that PublicCEO has already documented was their efforts to recover from the floods and mudslides in that the unseasonably wet winter brought.

But even when the County wasn’t battling Mother Nature, it was setting a prime example of how local governments can effective run a public works project. When the County set out to renovate the runway at Carlsbad’s McCellan-Palomar Airport, they made that project a marvel.

The San Diego County Airport Administration has earned the Public Works Project Of The Year Award, as part of PublicCEO’s Second Annual Local Government Awards.

The runway at Palomar Airport was 15 years old when engineers discovered the potential for catastrophic failure. That’s when the County decided to begin renovating the surface. The plan was to divide the 5,000-foot runway into five sections of equal length. The airport would close for one week while a section was dug out and then relay a new surface. The airport would then re-open for a week to allow businesses to remain open.

But when the County originally decided to start resurfacing the airport, they only had enough money for the first two segments. At the 11th hour, the Federal Aviation Administration agreed to provide additional funding, but the project had to begin before the end of the fiscal year. With the Administration’s offer coming in late August that left less than one month to secure the contracts.

Using the bids from the original 2,000 feet of work as the basis of their decision, their choice was Hazard Construction.

The project went faster than anticipated, according to Michael Drake, the Public Affairs Officer for the County of San Diego. Instead of opening and closing on Sundays, he said that the company was able to reopen on Saturdays and Fridays. Eventually, the project went from working in sections 1,000 feet long to sections nearly 1,500 feet long.

The scale of the project was impressive. Not only was the surface nearly a mile long, at 150ft wide, it was half as wide as a football field. And when you combined all the layers of asphalt and concrete, the surface was 23 inches thick. A schematic of the surface can be seen here.

You can view a video of the construction here.

As the construction began, the Board of Supervisors and airport officials hoped to minimize any detrimental effects that the closure would have upon the airports businesses. To mitigate these effects, the county decided to provide free parking for any displaced aircraft at other airports, and also waved the rent for facilities for two months.

This new runway complements a new, 18,000 square foot passenger terminal at the airport, and that makes McClellan-Palomar Airport an invaluable asset to Carlsbad and San Diego County.

On time and on budget; just two of the qualities that helped make the runway renovation at the McClellan-Palomar Airport the PublicCEO Public Works Project of the Year.

Join us in congratulating the County of San Diego on this award in local government.

Stay tuned this week for more Local Government Awards from For more information, please contact the editor, Dan Oney at