or two facilities. ADOT&PF oversees 249, of which 247 are located in rural Alaska, many of them with gravel surfaces because of underlying permafrost. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is the fifth-largest airport in the world in terms of cargo throughput. It alone is responsible for one in ten jobs in Anchorage. In addition, the state is home to the largest seaplane base in the world, Lake Hood, which is also owned and operated by the state of Alaska. The department is working on a draft master plan to update the seaplane base, with the first public meetings planned for the spring. In addition, the US Army Corps of Engineers is studying the bluffs at Point Woronzof, just off the end of the Anchorage runways, which are in danger of erosion. In January, they proposed placing large rocks at the base of the bluff to combat erosion at a cost of $48 million.
The upkeep for Alaska’s aviation facilities costs millions of dollars every year, not including upgrades to stay compliant with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines. After a slate of big construction projects to meet updated FAA mandates in
recent years, John Binder, deputy commissioner of ADOT&PF in charge of aviation, says the state has pretty much caught up with the requirements. “The big items are mostly done,” he says. “We’ve gotten to most of our runway relocations and we’re really transitioning into a maintenance standpoint.” In 2015, Nome underwent a major $27 million construction program that realigned runways, cleared the surrounding areas, expanded the aprons, upgraded equipment, improved safety, and even excavated nearby hills to meet FAA lineof-site requirements. While the work was done to meet FAA requirements, Nome is positioned as a potential transportation hub for northwest Alaska as traffic increases through the Northwest Passage. Nome is one of twenty-two airports in the state certificated by the FAA, Binder says, which allows larger planes with larger passenger loads to land. In Alaska, these are the airports serviced by Alaska Airlines. “The project in Nome was kind of one of the last ones that Congress mandated,” Binder says, explaining that a plane crash in North Carolina a few years ago sparked the requirements. “The things we have now are primarily rehabs,” Binder says. Among the larger
projects are the construction of snow removal equipment buildings in Bethel and Barrow. Binder listed some of the upcoming projects for 2016, noting that the list is still a draft. Galena will be getting new lights and its pavement rehabbed. Binder notes that only about fifty airports in the state are paved. Runways in Aniak and Dillingham will need to be shifted, projects that will cost $40 million to $50 million. The projects will be done in shifts to accommodate the difficulty of getting materials and equipment in during the short construction season. Cold Bay will get a new apron and taxiway rehab. Hooper Bay is getting a runway rehab and a new building to house snow removal equipment. Talkeetna is up for some “pretty significant” maintenance work. Haines has a big drainage project in the works, with rehab work slated for its taxiways.
Last Big Project
“Probably the last big, major one is Kwigillingok, which is getting a whole airport re-
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1.800.257.7726 • www.spanalaska.com March 2016 | Alaska Business Monthly
Published on Mar 1, 2016
Published on Mar 1, 2016
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