(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) and the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) have started discussions on the potential transfer of the Birchwood Airport. A co-sponsor agreement is currently being drafted that, once finalized, will allow both parties to operate the airport as the transfer discussions continue to take place. Co-sponsorship is the first step in a transfer process.
Local control allows a community to directly address the needs of an airport. “Balancing the needs of a specific airport against the other 234 State-owned airports often leaves some needs unaddressed. Local control allows a community, like the MOA, to give an airport the priority it needs to fully serve and grow the community.” said DOT&PF Deputy Commissioner Binder.
The DOT&PF Division of Statewide Aviation, which oversees the policies, procedures, and development of Alaska’s 235 publicly owned airports, approached the Municipality to discuss if a locally controlled Birchwood Airport would be beneficial to the community and the Alaskan aviation system. “With 82% of those airports living off the road system, we focus a lot on the airports that are the only transportation link for a community. With so much focus on rural Alaska, Birchwood will not receive the same attention from State’s limited staff to explore the future potential of the airfield. The Municipality of Anchorage is better postured to not only meet the needs of the airport but they better understand the local culture and desires of the flying community at the airport.” said Troy Larue, Divisions Operation Manager.
Birchwood Airport has been owned and operated by the DOT&PF since 1949, shortly after the U.S. Army transferred it. On average, more than 20 operations a day take place on two paved and lighted runways at this non-towered airport.
Transferring this unique general aviation airport is an opportunity to have more input from community stakeholders who use it the most. The MOA is moving forward with a thorough examination of what the operation of Birchwood would entail. As far as a timeline, Tory Larue stated, “We feel it will take around 18 months of work; City, State & FAA before the complete transfer will take place. This time frame will provide enough time to explore all aspects of the effort before the final transfer is completed.”
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 237 airports, 9 ferries serving 35 communities along 3,500 marine miles, over 5,600 miles of highway and 839 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.”
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