ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — A major runway maintenance project at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport will pump around $100 million into the local economy. But for residents in parts of east and south Anchorage, the project will also pump up the volume of air traffic this summer.
"A runway has a life cycle and right now we're at the end of that life cycle, so we need to recondition this runway," said Jim Szczesniak, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport Manager.
Evidence of the need to rehab the strip can be seen in the cracks that dot the North/South runway.
Maintenance on the North/South runway is expected to cost about $72 million dollars. Other ongoing summer projects bump the airport's construction budget up to $100 million.
Szczesniak says that a majority (87 percent) of the money comes from federal grants, with the remaining dollars coming from the airport. But no dollar amount will be able to stop the noise increase that some residents are going to notice over the next four months.
"We generally arrive and depart over the water," Szczesniak said, referring to air traffic over Anchorage. "But with this runway project, we are going to have to impact the traffic flows over the east and southeast sections of the city."
But, Szczesniak emphasizes that the increased noise is only temporary.
"Once the construction season closes this fall, traffic will go back to normal, where it's arriving and departing over the water," Szczesniak said. "And next year during construction season, we'll be arriving and departing over the city again. Once the project is complete by next year air traffic will return over the water."
Airport officials say the project isn't expected to exceed two years. The construction for the first phase is underway and will continue through September or October.