The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

Begich urges runway restoration

 

Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

An Alaska Department of Transportation equipment operator cleans rubble off the long runway at Seward Airport after fall flooding ate away a large chunk of pavement in mid September.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich urged Gov. Sean Parnell to restore Seward Airport's long runway in a letter to the governor on Tuesday.

Begich demanded that available federal funds be used to restore the runway to full capacity instead of short-term repairs that would jeopardize public safety and economic growth. The longer runway has not been fully usable since floods last fall undermined the underlying soil, preventing heavier aircraft from landing safely.

"The state is considering several options including the removal of the longer runway or repairs that don't bring the runway up to previous standards," said Begich. "Instead, the state should use the $17 million of federal Airport Improvement Program funds to completely restore the long runway to its full capacity. The City of Seward and the surrounding area rely too heavily on the economic and public safety benefits the airport brings to do anything else."

In his letter to Parnell, Begich notes the longer runway is important for public safety in the region and is frequently used by Coast Guard C-130s because the shorter runway cannot accommodate them. Medevac jets also need the longer runway for safe operations.

Begich also emphasized the importance of the runway for the region's economy. Traffic from business and private jets, which rely on the long runway, had been increasing before the flooding. The increased traffic makes jet fuel commercially viable at the airport. Without commercial jet fuel, Coast Guard and State Trooper helicopters could not refuel in Seward, one of the only places they can get Jet-A in the region.

Seward's municipal airport has two runways, one 4,200 feet long and a shorter one at 3,400 feet long. Since the fall floods, the weight of aircraft landing on the long runway has been limited to 12,500 pounds.

 

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