Anchorage airport planning to handle more traffic

ANCHORAGE — Anchorage airport officials are looking to manage increased traffic by improving existing infrastructure, without adding a new runway.

However, the Anchorage Daily News reports that a proposed master plan for Ted Stevens International Airport has a new runway as part of a long-term solution, Planners say that would occur only if growth in traffic reaches the highest forecast levels.

“It’s incumbent upon responsible airport management, on responsible airline partners, to recognize that there might be a day when a project of that magnitude is justified,” Evan Pfahler, a consultant and project manager for the airport’s master plan, said. “That day isn’t today.”

In the meantime, officials would work to improve existing runways and taxiways, and they would allow more takeoffs over the city. The next phase would be to use financial incentives to encourage some flights to go to Fairbanks.

Some residents have expressed concern about the impacts of a new runway, including noise and the potential displacement of Point Woronzof Park. Even after planners outlined the phased approach to handling traffic, some remained skeptical of the runway plan.

Nick Moe, the Southcentral organizer for the Alaska Center for the Environment and former candidate for Anchorage Assembly, said he was disappointed to see that the runway option remained in the master plan given the number of people that had commented against the idea.

“I think it should have been removed,” Moe said.

Airport Manager John Parrott said the airport is looking to acquire city parkland through a land swap, even though there are no immediate plans for a runway.

The airport is taking additional public comments on the master plan. A final report is due in December.

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