RUNWAY: Extension would hinder trail use

A point of contention between airport
and park offi cials for the past two years may
fi nally be fi nding resolution.
The Ted Stevens Anchorage International
Airport may soon undergo a runway extension
project that will improve airport effi ciency
and reduce congestion. The project will
extend Runway 7R which is primarily used
for cargo aircraft. The extension is meant to
help reduce taxiing congestion and runway
occupancy time, ANC Communications
Director Linda Bustamante said in an
e-mail.
“Often, airplanes are forced to make
detours and to wait for congestion to clear
before being able to reach their desired
destination,” Bustamante said. “Ultimately,
this reduces the capacity of the airfi eld to
accommodate aircraft.”
The new runway, however, would impose
itself on the Sisson Loop Trail in Kincaid
Park, which has many park users concerned.
The project would extend runway 7R and
relocate its associated lights-a lighting
system that would cross portions of the trail.
Currently, the project team is working with
the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage
to develop the best plan that would give the
airport its runway and local skiers their trail.
NSSA lands chairman Gordon Wetzel said
that the main issue regarding the lighting
system is that the airport would have to access
the lights with a vehicle for maintenance at
least once a week and the concern is how that
will impact the trail.
Wetzel said that the trail is an important
one.
“Sisson Loop Trail is about the only
‘easy’ trail in Kincaid Park,” Wetzel
said. “We would hate to lose a couple of
kilometers of Sisson Loop because it’s
about the only area with gentle terrain.”
DOT & PF and NSAA have worked
together to develop two concepts to
mitigate impacts to trail users. The two
options are a Re-Route concept and an
Existing Alignment Concept. One would
involve changing the routing of the trail
and the other would leave the trail as is.
Bustamante said no decision has yet
been made.
“DOT & PF is still working with the
public, trail users and land managers
to collect information and develop
collaborative solutions,” Bustamante said.
According to park planner Tom Korosei
at Parks and Recreation, however, the
Re-Route concept might be a go.
“They’ve been getting generally
favorable opinion to the Re-Route option,”
Korosei said. “[But] they haven’t decided
which concept to use and the planners may
be working on a third option.”
Korosei said that there is not really any
opposition to the project itself because the
airport is really in need of it. They are still
in the process of gathering the necessary
permit documents and Environmental
Assessment before any fi nal decisions can
be made.
If the FAA decides to move forward
with the project, construction could start
in 2010 or 2011.