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Airports region-wide to receive airport upgrades

Dean Swope

If things go according to plan, Newtok’s airport could be fully relocated to Mertarvik by the middle of September 2022. Newtok residents started relocating to the new village site in 2019.

Ron Scearcy is a Construction Manager with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. He said that the airport project is budgeted at more than $32 million.

“Just as soon as the new airport gets built, the state is going to come in and basically turn off the lights at the old airport, so to speak,” Scearcy said. “They’ll go in there and they’ll make sure that that runway cannot be used in the future. They’ll probably just plant grass on it or something like that.”

A number of other Y-K Delta region airports are also getting upgrades. Work that began last summer to resurface runways in Crooked Creek, Nunapitchuk, and Atmautluak will continue. Airports in Atmautluak and Kasigluk will also get new snow removal equipment buildings.

In Kipnuk, heavy equipment will arrive this summer for a $14 million project at the airport there.

“This winter, they’re going to go ahead and build an ice road from the barge landing area out to the airport,” said Scearcy. “ They’re going to move their equipment and materials out to the airports. And then next year, they’ll actually go out there and start to do the physical work,” he said.

Kipnuk’s runway will be fully resurfaced and reshaped for drainage, and the runway will have new lights.

In Bethel, airport taxiways will be resurfaced this summer. There’s also a plan in the works to upgrade and resurface one of the runways at the Bethel airport that will get underway next year to accommodate larger 737 jets.