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Airport workers damaged rebuilt LAX runway, contractor alleges

November 13, 2013|By Dan Weikel
  • Aircraft operate on the reconfigured south runway complex at LAX, which is now the focus of a lawsuit over construction defects.
Aircraft operate on the reconfigured south runway complex at LAX, which… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

Responding to allegations it built a defective runway at Los Angeles International Airport, a major construction company on Wednesday claimed it is the victim of a witch hunt and blamed poor maintenance by LAX workers for the deteriorating pavement.

Tutor-Saliba Corp., of Sylmar, which participated in the $250-million project to relocate the southernmost runway at LAX, leveled the charges in a letter sent to Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports.

The agency sued Tutor and four other contractors in October, asserting that the 13,000-foot runway is riddled with defects, including premature cracking, exposed steel reinforcing bars and deteriorating concrete.

Airport officials allege the defects could disrupt future flight operations at the nation’s third-busiest airport and require replacement of the pavement earlier than necessary.

Tutor contends, however, that the use of abrasive cleaning methods and high pressure water blasting by maintenance workers since the project was completed in 2007 is damaging  the runway surface and joint seals in the concrete. Company officials noted that the damage was confined to areas where planes touch down.

After a recent inspection, “it was blatantly obvious that LAWA’s airport maintenance has culpability in this matter,” the letter stated. “LAWA filing suit against all parties with no contractual relationship between each other is evidence of an apparent witch hunt.”

Airport officials declined to comment on Tutor-Saliba's allegations, saying it is their policy not to comment on pending litigation.

They have said in the past that the runway poses no immediate safety risk  to aircraft and is being closely monitored.

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Twitter: @LADeadline16

dan.weikel@latimes.com 

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