Airport clarifications

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, September 04, 2005

I appreciate the time Mr. Dale Leighton took to provide comments about Juneau International Airport (letter to the editor, Aug. 30), and I write to respond.

Mr. Leighton and I agree that the Airport is in "dire need of a makeover." Others in community agree as well. A March 2005 poll of membership by the Juneau Chamber of Commerce found terminal expansion among the top economy enhancing projects for a possible temporary 1 percent sales tax.

Funding for a new terminal renovation is now part of the temporary 1 percent sales tax ballot measure that will be considered in the October municipal election. The cost of the renovation is not a "$20 million price tag over four years using increased sales tax revenue," as stated. Rather, the cost is $75.5 million. The Federal Aviation Administration will provide approximately $27.2 million and the temporary 1 percent sales tax would provide $20 million. A general obligation bond would pay for approximately $8.5 million and the remaining $16.6 million would be funded by other sources.

Relocation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from the departure area does not address terminal deficiencies that include crowding, lack of amenities and insufficient ventilation. TSA is fixed by function in its present location. The new terminal renovation addresses these and other capacity type issues.

I appreciate the suggestion to explore transferring ownership of the airport to the state of Alaska. However, Juneau's Assembly has not directed the airport to initiate transfer of ownership and the state has not expressed any interest in acquiring the city's airport.

In developing funding for Juneau's new terminal/parking facility, the airport did not leave Small Community Air Service Development Funds (SCDF) on the table. Department of Transportation air service improvement grants are not intended for capital improvement projects. We continue to discuss with potential local partners possible projects that fall within the scope of this program. Projects that enhance local air service are eligible for these funds. We agree that a second air carrier would provide more transportation options for the community. A community organization with the airport as a co-sponsor could potentially receive a SCDF grant for a second air carrier project.

Please join the public Airport Board meetings the second Wednesday each month at the Airport, or contact Mr. Allan Heese, airport manager, at 789-7821.

Ron Swanson

Airport Board chairman, Juneau International Airport

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