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Planners OK runway expansion permits

Airport manager says he wants project to go to bid later this year

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Juneau planning commissioners Tuesday night approved without comment permits for expansion of the Juneau International Airport runway.

Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire
Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

The project's extension into 77 acres of nearby wetlands required a mitigation package that took resource agencies two years to negotiate.

"It's been a long work in progress," said Dale Pernula, director of the city community development department.

Airport Manager Dave Palmer said he's aiming for the project to go to bid by the end of 2008.

He estimated the runway expansion will cost $49 million, including a $5.4 million mitigation for filling in 77 acres of wetlands.

Much of the mitigation money will go to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust to buy land within the Mendenhall Game Refuge Boundary.

Wetland mitigation will also include moving Duck Creek north 500 feet and monitoring it for five years, and building footbridges over Jordan Creek.

The beginning of the Airport Dike Trail, near the floatplane pond, also will be relocated.

The runway expansion dates back to the 1999 Airport Master Plan, which recommended it to improve safety and bring the airport into compliance with Federal Aviation Administration requirements.

The FAA required an environmental impact statement that took seven years and was done in April 2007.

Having received these city permits, the runway expansion still requires more review by the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The primary work is to extend the safety area on the ends and sides of the runway, filling in nearby wetlands.

The floatplane pond, which has grown shallow and weedy, will be dredged. That will eliminate the weeds and make it less attractive to birds, and the dredge material will be used to build the safety areas.

On the northeast side, an area for a new field maintenance shop will be built. On the northwest side, expansion will support a new area for general aviation.

Planning commissioners Dan Miller, Dan Bruce, Vic Scarano, Dennis Watson, Maria Gladziszewski and Michael Satre approved the airport project permits as part of the consent agenda. Commissioners Frank Rue and Linda Snow were present but recused themselves because of conflicts of interest.



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