Rehabilitating a critical runway north of the Arctic Circle to connect community to the world
Kotzebue, Alaska, sits just above the Arctic Circle—and closer to Russia than to the state’s population center in Anchorage. Daily jet airliner traffic connects the remote community to rest of the world.
When it was time to rehabilitate the Ralph Wien Memorial Airport in Kotzebue, the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities needed to give special consideration to project management and phasing—they had to keep the single-runway airport operating while important safety features were added. The Kotzebue airport features the shortest runway servicing Alaska Airlines passenger traffic—it’s just 6,300 feet long.
We completed the resurfacing design for the 150-foot-wide runway, which is essentially surrounded by water—on three sides by the Kotzebue Lagoon and on its other side by Kotzebue Sound—and created 400-foot runway safety areas at both ends of the existing runway. To complete the resurfacing, the runway had to operate at half-width during the five-month construction season spread over two years.
Other elements of the project included our work on apron pavement reconstruction, taxiway reconfiguration and relocation, a new access road, sewer force main relocation, extensive environmental agency coordination for permitting, and development of an intricate construction safety and phasing plan.
With the rehabilitated surface, the Ralph Wien Memorial Airport and the community of Kotzebue have a safer, more effective runway.
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