The runway at Fort Leonard Wood's Forney Airfield — which also serves as Waynesville-St. Robert Regional Airport — was closed for five days earlier this month while contractors repaired 12 cracks in the pavement that began appearing last year.

According to Aviation Safety Officer Allen Moll, the cracks were transverse — meaning they ran across the width of the runway — and appeared where aircraft typically touch down.

“They started at about 2 inches wide,” he said. “They were 5 inches wide by early spring (this year).”

Moll said an uptick in usage over the past year is a likely culprit in the cause of the problem for the 6,037-foot runway.

“We have had an increase in traffic supporting the military sterile COVID-19 flights,” he said. “These aircraft are heavier and create more wear and tear on the runway.”

To solve the problem, the Fort Leonard Wood Directorate of Public Works brought in contractors to make all necessary repairs.

“The runway was milled down to the bottom of the pavement at an average of 10 feet wide,” said J.D. Bales, DPW Engineering Design Branch chief.

Bales said this was the first year the runway developed cracks that wide, but the repairs ensure the safety of everyone using the airfield.