Crooked Creek is getting a new runway. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced an award of $16,054,709 to rebuild the village’s runway.
Crooked Creek’s Tribal Transportation Director, Tim Zaukar, says that the existing runway dips in some parts.
“And other sections where it’s lifted up, so it’s kind of like waves,” Zaukar said. “It’s not too safe for planes to be landing on a washboarded runway.”
Donlin Gold representative Kristina Woolston stated that the mining company had no involvement in securing these funds. The company did state, however, that they have been training heavy equipment operators in preparation for this airport construction project. Zaukar says that Crooked Creek started planning for the new runway about 15 years ago. He says that it took a long time for the State of Alaska to obtain the land for the new runway.
“The land was owned by a native allotment owner, and he had a number of heirs and they all had to come to an agreement on it. Some of them didn’t want to sell the land, they wanted to trade the land for another piece of land, but the state didn’t want to do that,” Zaukar explained. “They just eventually had to sell because everyone needs a runway here.”
Zaukar says that with $16 million, they can build a longer runway that’s also lighted. He says that will make it easier to medevac people out of the village.