Thursday, July 21, 2011

20 July 2011: Update from Leslie Grey, FAA

It’s been some time since I’ve provided all of you with information
concerning the Kodiak Airport EIS.  This message will give you a sense of
the work we’ve been doing since our meetings in Anchorage and Kodiak last
February.  I’ll also take the opportunity to let you know of a new approach
I’ve implemented to keep the public, tribes, agencies and other
stakeholders informed of our efforts.  First though, a summary of what is
happening with the EIS.
Most of our effort right now is being consumed by a comprehensive
examination of possible alternatives.  Last February I organized meetings
with tribal and agency representatives during which we held some of the
very good discussion concerning operational factors that can control or
constrain what could be done with runways at Kodiak Airport.  For example,
a common question asked was whether the north-south Runway 18/36 could be
shifted to the south, so that runway safety area could be installed on the
south runway end without adding new land that would affect the Buskin
River.  We are conducting a rigorous evaluation of the aviation
requirements for that runway to determine what, if any, degree of runway
shift would be possible without bringing obstructions such as trees or
terrain into the glide slopes for approaching aircraft.  Other factors also
have to be considered, such as impacts to critical navigational aids.  So
that all possible combinations of alternatives are being considered, a
similar analysis is being conducted for the east-west Runway 7/25.  We are
also considering other questions and options raised during those meetings
involving engineered materials arresting systems, side slope angles and
other construction requirements.
All of this analysis and re-examination of alternatives is taking more time
than any of us working on the EIS would have liked, but I’m satisfied that
the results will stand up to the very close scrutiny needed for such
important decisions.  In the meantime, I want to remind you that ADOT&PF is
still planning to initiate construction work this summer on a project
unrelated to the EIS or safety areas.  A contractor has been hired to
re-pave Runway 18/36, and at the same time replace lighting within and
along that runway.   Although much of the work will be on the surface, with
little new disturbance, there will have to be some excavation along runway
shoulders and for utility crossings.  Once ADOT&PF establishes a work
schedule we will make sure to pass that and other relevant information
After the February meetings I promised to start sending periodic project
updates, not only to keep you better informed of our work and progress, but
also to provide responses to the more substantive questions and concerns.
I’m sorry for the delay in getting that started – and I won’t bore you with
details of the contracting issues we had to resolve or other seemingly
minor bureaucratic issues to sort through – but this message serves notice
that in the coming weeks and months, the updates will be regular and
informative, even if the answers aren’t always what you would prefer to
hear.  I plan on using these communications to address a variety of topics,
but particularly the areas that seem to generate the most interest among
agency and tribal representatives, and the public.
These updates will not always come directly from me.  Certain senior
members of my EIS consulting team, depending on their particular expertise
and experience, will also be responsible for putting together the updates.
I hope you will feel comfortable calling them directly or sending a reply
e-mail if you have questions or concerns.  Of course, please call or write
me at any time, and if I can’t immediately provide the information you need
I’ll make sure we get it to you as soon as possible.
Thanks very much for your patience.  On behalf of FAA, I truly appreciate
your continued interest in the work we are doing and the necessary
processes we must follow to reach a decision concerning proposed runway
safety area improvements at Kodiak Airport.
Leslie Grey
Environmental Protection Specialist
FAA - Alaskan Region, Airports Division