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Airport projects jet forward

Posted: Friday, September 17, 2004

 

  Photo by Phil Hermanek Airline passengers arriving at Kenai Municipal Airport use the departure entrance to the terminal as their exit, circumnavigating construction barriers that temporarily block the arrival entrance. Both entrances are expected to be open Saturday as sidewalk heating tube installation work moves to the restaurant end of the building. Photo by Phil Hermanek

Photo by Phil Hermanek Airline passengers arriving at Kenai Municipal Airport use the departure entrance to the terminal as their exit, circumnavigating construction barriers that temporarily block the arrival entrance. Both entrances are expected to be open Saturday as sidewalk heating tube installation work moves to the restaurant end of the building.

Photo by Phil Hermanek

Air travelers using the Kenai Municipal Airport are asked to be patient while a major renovation project aimed at improving access to the city-owned facility is being completed.

Although it looks like a mess right now, the two separate projects currently going on designed to eventually make things easier for handicapped people trying to get in and out of the airport, safer for people walking on slippery sidewalks and more convenient for commuters traveling to and from Anchorage. That's according to airport manager Rebecca Cronkhite, who said Wednesday that the work being done is meant to improve things for the traveling public.

The first project, Cronkhite said, is being funded almost entirely by FAA and state grants and is being used to add access ramps and heated sidewalks to the front and south side of the airport.

"It will make it much safer for the traveling public," Cronkhite said.

Cronkhite said the project will cost approximately $580,000, with the city's portion of the cost expected to be approximately three percent, or somewhere in the neighborhood of $17,000. Cronkhite said the sidewalk and access project is expected to be completed sometime in October, just in time for winter.

The only inconvenience travelers must put up with during the construction is the closure of some entrances while the work is being completed. Cronkhite said that only having one set of doors open at a time has resulted in very few complaints from travelers.

"People understand that we have a very short construction season," she said.

The other project taking place is a major redesign of the airport's parking lot. Cronkhite said the parking lot work, a $10,000 project being paid for by the city, is aimed at making it easier for people making short trips out of town. Instead of having overnight parking in the city's long-term lot, the short-term parking lot will now accommodate people who want to park for up to two days.

"That whole front of the parking lot will have short term parking with a two-hour limit," she said. "On the back end, people will be able to park for up to two days."

After the project is completed, she said people wishing to park in the short-term lot will have to place their fee in an envelope and drop it into a collection box.

Cronkhite said this will ease congestion at the long-term parking area, especially during periods when a lot of people are going on vacation.

"Christmas and Thanksgiving, especially," she said.

The intended effect, she said, is to make things easier for people who just want to go to Anchorage for a day or two.

"We believe it will make it a lot easier for the commuting public," she said.

The two renovation projects are just part of a number of ambitious projects that have either taken place or are in the works at the airport. In the past year, a new carrier has taken over counter space in the terminal, the Transportation Security Administration has set up shop and a new business has begun using the lobby area to sell snacks. In addition, security cameras have been installed, a new gate project will soon get under way and the city is looking at the idea of extending its runway.

Cronkhite said that in addition to the improvements, the city soon will begin working on a revised airport master plan, which will use public input to help determine what direction the facility will take over the next two decades.

"Once we get off the ground, we'll be involving local people from around the community in planning for the next 20 years," she said.

The plan will focus on how to continue making the airport a vital and healthy part of the city and surrounding area.

"Basically, it's going to be a business and financial plan like you would do with any other business," she said.



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