A series of public meetings in Anchorage is aimed at gathering input from residents on an update of a master plan for the Ted Stevens International Airport. Federal Aviation Administration regulations require an airport master plan that envisions short, medium and long term plans for airport development.
The airport master plan does not mean expansion or construction is imminent. The outcome of the process is a plan for growth, according to Evan Pfahler, project manager with the Florida aviation engineering and design company Reynolds, Smith and Hills. Pfahler hosted this week’s meeting. He says although Ted Stevens International Airport is operating now at a slower rate than in the past, future growth is on the horizon.
“Passenger enplanements were at their peak in 2008, and the airport handled the most cargo in any given year in 2006. However, we are still forecasting growth to occur, and eventually we’ll see new record passenger numbers, new record cargo numbers, although that rate of growth, that overall rate of growth, will be a little slower than forecast back in 2007, about half the rate of growth. “
Pfaler says a master plan update will take about a year and a half to complete. The last actual airport expansion was finished in 2005 with the opening of the C Concourse
“And so the facilities are going to continue to need improvements in order to accommodate that overall growth throughout this twenty year planning horizon.”
The meeting was the fourth in a series, and more of them are coming up. Planners want input from residents of Anchorage on what is the best way to prepare for future expansion. Questions from the public ranged widely and reflected concerns about parking, expansion into park areas, and disposal of runoff from de-icing solutions. Audience members spoke into a wireless microphone passed around the room so everyone could hear. One man asked
” Is Fairbanks currently going through a master plan update also, and how much of a competitor with cargo would you say they are to Anchorage?”
” The answer to the first question is ‘Yes’, the Fairbanks international airport is conducting a master plan update as we speak. And given the fact that the Alaska International Airport System owns and operates both airports, Anchorage and Fairbanks, there is no competition because they have the same ownership structure and the same customers.”
Working groups have been established at prior meetings during the fall of last year to represent residential, environmental and business interest groups. A Technical Advisory Committee represents commercial airlines, airport leaseholders and the FAA.
Airport facility requirements do not determine whether a facility should be built, or where it should be built or even what it ought to look like, Pfaler told meeting goers. Requirements merely outline the additional facilities that will be needed to meet potential demand, and requirements depend on the forecast of aviation activity.
“The forecast of aviation activity for this study was prepared under the Alaska International Airport System Planning Study, which looked at future activity levels, not just for Anchorage International Airport, but also for Fairbanks International Airport. ”
The results were presented in September at an earlier open house, he said, and that data from those studies is being used in other projects, such as noise level studies for both the Anchorage and Fairbanks airports. Another public meeting is scheduled for May.
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