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Closure of airport dike trail under discussion

Posted: Tuesday, October 02, 2001

The Airport Dike Trail, which runs atop an earthen tide barrier erected between the Mendenhall Wetlands and the Juneau Airport, may be closed for security reasons.

Juneau Assembly member John MacKinnon attended a briefing at the airport Friday in which closing the trail was discussed. The Federal Aviation Administration suggested closing the trail would help to reduce the number of National Guard members needed to provide security coverage, MacKinnon said.

However, no final decision has been made, said airport spokeswoman Patty de La Bruere. "We are still talking," de La Bruere said, acknowledging the FAA advanced the idea of closure. "Many issues of security are going on right now at the airport."

MacKinnon viewed restricting the trail as unnecessary.

"I don't think Juneau is high on the list for terrorist attacks, but the way the federal government works, if it applies to one, it applies to all," he said. "As far as being able to see the whole airport perimeter, I think the control tower gives good visibility and security coverage can be done from there."

Laurie Ferguson Craig, who has used the trail daily for 19 years, is outraged that it might be closed to foot traffic.

"It's a political move, not a security move. People who walk there regularly are the best line of defense for any unusual activity," Craig said.

Such closures should not be implemented without prior public input, Craig said. "I think they are trying to get rid of the public who have been making things difficult for the people who do not like the idea of airport expansion."

The dike trail is one of the most popular trails in Juneau, she said.

"It's a trail where there are no bears, no porcupines, no cars and it's open to what daylight we have in the winter," she said. "Under no circumstances should it be shut down."

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Reporter Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.com.



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