Maintaining airline access is crucial

Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2001

The Alaska Committee is a nonprofit organization with an 18-member volunteer board whose mission is to retain the state capital in Juneau. The most significant criticism and challenge we continually face is the issue of access. As a longtime resident of Juneau and current chair of the Alaska Committee, I am concerned that some of the alternatives being discussed as part of the recent Draft Environmental Impact Study for the Juneau International Airport will reduce access to our capital city.

Clearly, safety is paramount when considering how best to respond to the new FAA requirements regarding Runway Safety Area (RSA) improvements. Therefore, we do not endorse any alternative that would not meet FAA requirements. However, some alternatives under consideration would result in a shortened runway and restrictions that could preclude the use of fully loaded aircraft or the use of certain types of aircraft. The effect of adopting any of these alternatives would be to reduce air access to Juneau.

This could be very damaging to Juneau in our role as the capital city. Imagine what the rest of the state would think if they learned that we are taking steps to make it "harder" to get into Juneau. Certainly, wetlands use can be mitigated but how can we mitigate the loss of air access?

The primary purpose of the Alaska Committee is to improve and enhance Juneau to allow it to become a better capital city. Access to the rest of the state is a key component of our community's responsibilities as the capital city. Juneau cannot afford to restrict access at a time when Alaskans are demanding increased access.

Win Gruening

Alaska Committee Chair

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