Design, Products, Expertise Land Project On Time

Waterproofing for airport gate-expansion project uses GCP’s products and knowledge.

A gate-expansion project at McCarran International Airport used GCP waterproofing systems for a tunnel connecting gates directly to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection passenger-arrival facility.

McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, opened in 1948 and has experienced enormous growth and undergone numerous significant expansions. In fact, the facility is known for its continuous expansions and upgrades, tripling in size between 1981 and 2005.

“We like to stay ahead of pace,” said airport project manager Todd Cooklin. “There was a clear growth opportunity to expand international tourism for Las Vegas. Direct international flights lead to global visitors choosing Las Vegas as the launching pad for their U.S. visit. The challenge was our city has grown around the airport, so we had to be creative in how we designed the International Gate Expansion Project, and do it efficiently to minimize interruptions for the airlines.”

In February 2016 the $51-million International Gate Expansion project kicked off with an aggressive timeline of 14 months. The design included improvements to the airport’s $2.4-billion Terminal 3, expanding international gates from seven to 14, and building an underground tunnel connecting McCarran’s D gates directly to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection passenger-arrival facility. The tunnel is under one of the main taxi lanes and features moving walkways, escalators, and elevators.

“When constructing a tunnel, it’s one thing when it is a transit tunnel for vehicles. A tunnel to transport people presents many challenging details,” said Las Vegas based-Martin-Harris Construction construction-superintendent Dennis Maestas. “First and foremost there is zero tolerance for water in the structure.”

To ensure the high level of required water tightness, McCarran’s team selected GCP Applied Technologies, Cambridge, MA, to be a one-stop shop for waterproofing the tunnel. “We have a history with GCP Applied Technologies, we know its products perform,” said Cooklin. “With our tight timeline we had no room for delays. We needed partners and providers that would be with us every step of the way.”

Design Advantage

The GCP team jumped in before the project was designed and worked directly with the McCarran management team; architecture firm Gensler & Associates, Las Vegas; waterproofing consultant CDC Inc., Las Vegas; and general contractor Martin-Harris Construction to walk through details and drawings. GCP was involved in pre-construction meetings and presented the products, specifications, and details, minimizing unforeseen challenges with drawings and prepping the project to be managed efficiently in the field.

“From blueprint to build, GCP has an excellent process of working from the design phase to completion of the project,” noted Maestas. “They had a great relationship with the architectural firm, working with them on the tunnel drawings, and built their products seamlessly into the design.”

In addition to meeting all aspects of the project’s design, the International Gate Expansion also required working with McCarran’s owner, the Clark County Department of Aviation, to meet its requirements. Specifically, the department had requirements on the specifications of the concrete being used to construct the tunnel. CalPortland, Glendora, CA, the concrete provider for the tunnel project, used GCP admixtures to meet the aviation-department delivery-time limitations and low-shrinkage requirements. Admixtures are used to improve or change specific properties in concrete. GCP has an extensive portfolio of concrete admixtures to ensure that all criteria are met and the finished product meets a project’s requirements.

“I have been working with GCP concrete admixtures for six years,” said CalPortland director of quality control Mark Bliss. “As a government project, additional inspections and requirements come into play. GCP’s admixtures worked very well and played a key role, exceeding all minimum design requirements. The Department of Aviation even commented on how they liked the concrete mix and how well it was working.”

The vertical walls of the tunnel were constructed using Bituthene 3000, a high-performance, flexible, preformed waterproof membrane. After the walls were installed, Bituthene Deck System was used on the lid of the tunnel.

Proven Performance

GCP has been involved in numerous McCarran expansions. The company’s products were used in an existing tunnel to the D Gates, built in 2001. Products were also used in the $2.4-billion construction of Terminal 3, which included the addition of 14 gates and an automated people-mover system that connects Terminal 3 with existing Terminal 1 using an underground tunnel.

For the international-gate project Preprufe 300R pre-applied waterproofing system was selected to deliver the extreme water tightness required for the tunnel transporting passengers. The product was used on the underslab of the tunnel’s concrete floor. The membranes are multi-layered composite waterproofing sheets made from a chemically resistant HDPE film, a highly aggressive pressure-sensitive adhesive, and a weather-resistant protective coating that allows the membrane to fully adhere to freshly poured concrete and prevent water tracking. Unlike some conventional membranes that are vulnerable to water penetration at junctions and penetrations, the company’s Advanced Bond Technology creates a seal with the concrete to prevent any entry or migration of moisture around the structure.

The vertical walls of the tunnel were constructed using GCP’s Bituthene 3000, a high-performance, flexible, preformed waterproof membrane. After the walls were installed, Bituthene Deck System was used on the lid of the tunnel. Bituthene Deck Prep was first installed as a fluid-applied leveling course, followed by a layer of the Bituthene 3000 sheet waterproofing membrane.

“In addition to being high performing, GCP membranes are able to be electronically tested to verify water tightness and they are well suited for the extreme variations in the Las Vegas climate,” said CDC Inc. manager Michael Lee. “During the day it can be 102 degrees and then drop to 40 degrees at night. GCP’s products have a high tolerance for the dramatic swing in temperatures.”

Once construction began, GCP representatives were on the tarmac to provide complete site support. The company’s field technicians collaborated with all teams—overseeing installation, answering questions, sharing insight, and providing recommendations.

“We had a GCP representative here at least once a week guiding us and ensuring everything was installed properly,” Cooklin said. “When they were not onsite, we would simply text them a photo with a question and would usually have an answer back within an hour. This kind of partnership was vital in maintaining our timeline.”

“As the waterproofing consultant on the project, we always consider the manufacturer’s ability to be able to provide technical support when selecting a waterproofing system,” noted Lee. “The quality of GCP’s support, both from their technical office staff and their field staff was a major factor in our decision to utilize a GCP waterproofing system on this difficult project.”

The GCP team provided the products, knowledge, data, technologies, services, and people to successfully and seamlessly complete the McCarran Airport International Gate Expansion Project on time. The combination of products, people, and expertise is the company’s Blue360 Total Business Advantage. The company’s approach of high-performance products accompanied with layers of design and technical expertise provided a partner that the McCarran team trusted.


Get information on the project:

— Blue 360 Design Advantage

— Preprufe pre-applied waterproofing

— Bituthene post-applied waterproofing

— Concrete

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