Clear skies and mild temperatures in Bolivia’s Cochabamba Valley brought good news this week to Nuevo Mundo’s engineers and machine operators. With good weather they could continue to work from dawn until dusk as they press forward to finish as much runway work as possible before seasonal rains begin later in December. “The work is incredibly large”, says engineer Boris Rodriguez “but we’re making good progress.” He shared these photos and update with us.

Motograder spreads truckloads of sifted river rock to form runway subbase.

After motograder spreads rock, smooth, vibrating roller compacts it every 6” until it’s rock solid.

Mano a Mano’s Largest Project to Date

This project, the largest undertaken by Mano a Mano to date, presents challenges that are unique to runway construction. One is the stringent set of specifications that must be met for safe aircraft landing.

What’s Needed for a Runway

  1. Materials must be of measurable hardness and resistance.
  2. The rock materials must be of varying sizes (granulometry) in order to form hard and compactable surfaces.

Fortunately, locally available materials meet these requirements.

Materials Required for the Correct Mixture Being Delivered to Site

The rock materials must be of varying sizes (granulometry) in order to form hard and compactable surfaces. This requirement presented us with significant challenges. The locally available material does not have the type of binder or clay needed for compacting. To address this problem, the crew takes the laborious step of mixing two dump trucks of crushed rock with one dump truck of fine rock and one of ceramic clay. This recipe produces a composition of materials that will hold and bind together.

Crushed rock, fine rock, and ceramic clay being mixed on site.

Completed Runway Will Be 3,600 Feet in Length

The 75-foot-wide runway is worked in 1,000-foot-long segments, in 6-inch-thick increments. The completed runway will measure about 3,600 feet in length.

The drawing shows the location of the runway (along the left side) in relation to the Laguna Sulti reservoir (reservoir also pictured below).

Mano a Mano’s expansion of the Laguna Sulti water reservoir was completed in November 2021. The rain arrived and filled the reservoir. One rain and the reservoir is about to overflow by the large overflow opening.

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Runway Construction Photos – November 2022