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Gibraltar Airport Runway Photographs

Summary:
Email claims that attached photographs show a busy road that goes right across the main runway at Gibraltar airport (Full commentary below).



Status:
True

Example:(May 2009)
Subject: Gibraltar Airport

Imagine a runway crossing Western Express Highway – Mumbai, Santacruz…..
You must be thinking I am kidding…. Read on… and see for yourself

We have heard of highways being used as runways in some countries. But this is the first time I have seen roads crossing a runway and road traffic being stopped by a traffic light while an aircraft takes off or lands!

Absolutely amazing!

The mind boggles……

Gibraltar Airport

Gibraltar Airport Runway 1

Gibraltar Airport Runway 2

Gibraltar Airport Runway 3

Gibraltar Airport Runway 4




Commentary:
According to this email forward, the attached photographs depict the runway at Gibraltar Airport - a very unusual runway in that it is traversed by a busy road. The photographs show that traffic on the road crossing the runway is controlled by traffic lights and boom gates thereby allowing aircraft to land unhindered.

Although, such a runway configuration is certainly unusual, the photographs are genuine and do depict the Gibraltar AIrport runway. The caption of another image of the airport published on About.com notes:
British Gibraltar has very little area, and the important airport runway takes up a major portion of land. To drive from Gibraltar to Spain, vehicles must cross the runway.
The following satellite image from Google Maps also clearly shows the road crossing the runway. Clicking on the blue markers on the map provides more photographs and information about the airport:


View Larger Map

While currently true, this sharing arrangement between road and runway may, sooner or later, be a thing of the past. In 2007, the Government of Gibraltar unveiled plans for a new airport terminal and tunnel. In a May 2007 press release, it notes:
Even with current airport use Gibraltar can no longer sustain a situation of severe traffic tailbacks, disruptions and delay every time an aircraft takes off or lands. This is even less acceptable in the context of increased use of the airport following the Cordoba Airport Agreement, which has enabled the normal operation of our airport.

Accordingly, the Government will also divert the main road leading to the north of the runway. This main road will no longer cross the runway at the centre, as at present. Instead, the new main road will take the route of Devils Tower Road, up to the junction with Eastern Beach Road. At that point there will be a large roundabout. The main road will then U-turn to the North through the site known as the Aerial Farm, passing parallel to Eastern Beach Road but behind the ex-Mediterranean Hotel building, and then passing under a tunnel at the Eastern end of the runway. Once it emerges from the tunnel on the north side of the runway the new road will run parallel to the frontier, passing under the air terminal fly-over section.
However, it is currently unclear when or if the new tunnel and road system will be completed.

The following YouTube video of aircraft activity at Gibraltar airport also shows the unusual runway/road intersection:




References:
Gibraltar Airport Runway Intersecting Road to Spain
New Air Terminal, tunnel under the runway and new road leading to all parts of Gibraltar north of the runway

Last updated: 28th May 2009
First published: 28th May 2009

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen