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Project facts


Golden Gate Constructors




San Francisco, CA




March–August 2014




  • Electrical

In the summer of 2014, Royal took on the fastest and largest project we had ever performed. Royal’s subcontract price of $25.9 million, as part of an overall contract of $96 million, included the installation of $14 million in owner-furnished electrical materials within a five-month timeframe. As a subcontractor to Golden Gate Constructors, Royal’s crews worked six days a week, both day and night shifts, to complete our work at one of the busiest airports in the world.

The Runway Safety Area (RWSA) Enhancement Project involved reconstruction of both ends of San Francisco International Airport’s North/South Runways, construction and realignment of various taxiways, construction of new jet blast deflectors, new airfield electrical equipment, new FAA navigational aids, and installation of four Engineered Materials Arrestor Systems (EMAS) at the end of each runway. Because the runways would have to be shut down during construction, the project was compressed into a window of 100 calendar days.

The scope of the project was broken down as follows.

Airfield electrical replacement work:

  • Demolition and removal of more than 3,500 airfield lights and cans with existing conduits, conductors and handholes.
  • Installation of 62,000 lineal feet of concrete encased duct banks which included 454,000 lineal feet of conduit.
  • Installation of 58,000 lineal feet of saw cut kerf and more than 2,832,000 lineal feet (527 miles) of new conductors.
  • Installation of more than 4,000 new light fixtures on new base cans.
  • Installation of new obstruction lighting on the South Field blast fence and the North Field sea wall.

Federal Aviation Administration navigational aids work, including:

  • Installation of new concrete-encased duct banks and handholes.
  • Relocation of Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) lights.
  • Relocation of the glide slope shelter and antenna.
  • Installation of a new Medium Intensity Approach Lighting System (MALSR) threshold bar.
  • Relocation of all MALSR stations, including the station located on a pier in the bay.

Federal Aviation Administration Runway Status Light (RWSL) work, including:

  • Installation of new RWSL conduit and airfield lighting during short duration closures of active taxiways.

Royal Electric has been performing airfield electrical work since the early 1980s, with similar elements to this project on different airports throughout the Western US. Unlike projects we had done before, however, this one combined several aspects of airfield electrical, over two runways and multiple taxiways, in a very short duration. While a project like this would typically be phased and take several years to complete, the contract documents called for all work to be performed in 100 calendar days. Other specific challenges included:

  • Security & Logistics — Two-thirds of the project took place in a secure airport perimeter, requiring badging for all employees and delivery drivers, plus escorts for driving through airport operations. The other third of our work required crews to leave the secure perimeter and drive 20 minutes around the entire airport for access to the other side. 
  • Procurement of Materials by Owner — Because of the tight schedule, the owner pre-ordered $14 million in airfield lighting and manholes. Royal had to coordinate inventory of these owner-furnished materials and delivery to our site of work.

Royal Electric and Golden Gate Constructors worked hand-in-hand with the inspection team and SFO to ensure the success of the project. Royal’s expertise in airfield construction and our experience with challenges on projects over the past several decades put us in a position to mitigate any potential problems before they occurred, and present solutions for the owner. Our entire team from the top down was dedicated to bringing this project in safely and on time. Ultimately, the project was completed in 79 calendar days, earning an early-completion bonus of $2 million for the team, and allowing airport operations to reopen the runways early for traveling passengers. Specific solution strategies included:

  • Coordination with the general contractor — Royal’s work had to be installed in conjunction with the work of the civil contractor, requiring hourly coordination of materials and hundreds of crew members.
  • Manpower — Royal utilized our electricians, laborers and operators from several western states in order to properly staff this project. Additionally, we allocated personnel from all offices for purchasing, management, and administrative positions in order to support the crews building this project.
  • Expediting the change, costs and billings process — With an accelerated payment schedule, unit price billings and quantities had to be measured and managed on a daily basis.  “Fast Teams” were created and met as often as twice a day to deal with unforeseen conditions. Royal was a key member of all six teams working closely with stakeholders to make expedited decisions on how to proceed with change order work and recommend value engineering items that saved the project both money and contract time.
  • Safety — With so many crews working multiple shifts in the same area, six days per week, safety was a serious concern. The entire project team, including management was involved and with more than 150,000 man-hours on the project, there were no lost-time injuries.

“No other electrical contractor could have done what Royal did on SFO. Their expertise in airfield electrical is unmatched. Between their ability to see design issues and present constructible solutions, to their ability to complete a tremendous amount of work in an incredibly short work window, is like nothing I have ever seen.”

Quinn Hance, DeSilva Gates
Senior Project Manager

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