Seward and the Eastern Kenai Peninsula have a new opportunity to save the long runway at the Seward airport; we had better take advantage.

The Federal Aviation Administration has instructed the Alaska Department of Transportation to schedule a joint public hearing, which was missed during the initial process, on its Seward Airport Rehabilitation Project. This meeting will be on Aug. 15 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the K. M. Rae Building in Seward. We are hoping for a significant turnout.

The City of Seward and many local stakeholders view this hearing as an important oppurtunity to revisit what all believe is a flawed decision. It is crucial to demonstrate to DOT the extent of support in the aviation and business communities, as well as the general population, for a long-term solution to the flooding at the airport.

I have made the rounds to aviators and other stakeholders in the Seward area, asking them to participate in an effort to maintain the Seward airport’s two runways: runway 13/31 at 4,240 feet long and runway 16/34 at 2,279 feet long. They currently provide reasonable approaches to small and medium size aircraft in challenging wind conditions.

Although aviators and other stakeholders on the Eastern Peninsula generally endorse retaining that configuration, DOT has settled on a plan to abandon the long runway.

As you may know, the Resurrection River, in its meanders, has approached the airport’s 4,240 ft. runway, undermined the substrate and caused the load limits to be reduced, thereby making the full use of the runway unavailable. The history of the river is well documented. In the past, control efforts have succesfully – although temporarily – redirected flows away from the airport.

It is not my intent here to fully discuss the technical aspects of this work but rather to gain your support for reconsideration of DOT’s plans to abandon runway 13/31 and rebuild runway 16/34 on a different footprint.[KW1]  This redesign comes with conflicts of property ownership, loss of habitat, interference with popular recreational areas, and ignores prospects for future development in the Seward area.

The City of Seward has contacted DOT, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and others and requested a delay in the project as this reconsideration and planning effort proceeds. Meetings of citizen groups and Seward advisory groups have taken place.

If you also believe that Seward needs its runway, please attend the hearing on Aug. 15. You may also contact me at bruce@jaffaconstruction.com to add your name to a list of runway supporters.


 [KW1]This comes almost straight out of the DOT scoping report.