Sunday, May 18, 2008

Anchorage International v. Coastal Trail

Once again we find ourselves with another partisan debate between Democrats and Republicans. At least in name only. As the ADN reports today, airport officials are seeking four different proposals for a new north-south runway that will run parallel to its existing runway in order to handle a growth in cargo traffic that is expected to continue into 2020. All four proposals will require realignment of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail with the top proposal being the most dramatic as it will involve spilling in 130 acres of earth onto Cook Inlet to serve as new ground for the proposed runway. Proposal 3 will also run over what is now Woronzof Park while proposals 2 and 4 will be less dramatic and save the park, but will scoot the trail closer to the AWWU treatment plant (the stinky place). The Municipality bought what is now Woronzof Park from the airport in a 1994 land swap in order to build Kincaid Elementary.

With a public meeting to be held this Wednesday evening at the Coast International Inn, expect some emotional testimonies from both sides. I myself am not sure what to think of this. With a forecast by the airport showing continued growth for the next several years, a new runway sounds like a must, but at what cost to the trail, its users, and its wildlife habitat?

*Update - According to the ADN, the folks at Steven's International apparently took a beating at last nights public meeting in which, as I predicted, the Coast International Inn would be packed with trail users opposing the new runway plans. But get this: besides trail users, airliners were also against the proposals. Airport officials say the plans will be shelved... for now.

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