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The state's Ketchikan airport needs work.
State officials are being asked to fund $2.6 million in airport improvements, beginning with a ramp to the seaplane dock that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The existing ramp is too steep, resulting in injuries that have required the airport to cover medical costs. Changing the direction of the ramp and adding to it would help travelers accessing the airport or catching seaplanes to small towns in the area, particularly when it comes to managing luggage. Reconfiguring the ramp is estimated to cost $200,000.
The seaplane pullout and dock is beyond repair and needs to be replaced. Electrical cables that run through the dock haven't worked in eight years. The pullouts are wrongly positioned, which makes it difficult to pull planes onto the ramp because of water current and wind. Not only that, but the airport needs almost twice the capacity that the three pullouts provide. These airport improvements would cost $750,000.
The airport has other deficiencies that need to be addressed. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration requires the airport to prepare a water rescue plan. Currently, the airport has a 20-year-old boat. Neither it nor its motor are reliable. To correct the deficiency would cost about $46,000.
The airport also could realize additional revenue if utilities were expanded. Some areas of the airport where prospective tenants might rent are without water and sewer altogether. Tenants are unlikely to bear the cost of installing utilities. Also, the airport's fire hall and snow removal storage shed are without sewer lines. To install the utilities is expected to cost around $950,000.
Airport officials also see a need to replace and add pullouts at Murphy's Pullout, a cost ranging between $350,000 and $450,000.
Ketchikan's airport might be the busiest business in the community, with jet service at least half a dozen times per day and seaplanes and other aircraft feeding into it. During the summer, it sees heavy use — with the addition of tourists, work crews for seasonal industries, sports enthusiasts coming to fish and hunt, and locals going on and coming from vacations or welcoming or saying good-bye to relatives and friends.
The airport is integral to Ketchikan's economy. It's an existing state property that needs to be maintained, repaired, upgraded and even expanded for Alaskans and their visitors.
The repairs also create the opportunity for an increase in the airport's revenue from renters.
In the current economic times, opportunity for business shouldn't be denied.