Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Final meetings for regional aviation plan

Palmer | Patty Sullivan | Monday, May 31, 2010

After 17 months of study and meetings with pilots, airstrip owners, community leaders, airport neighbors, and others, an airport planning team has released its recommendations about future aviation growth in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

The Mat-Su Borough has the highest concentration of public and private airports in the nation. It is also the fastest growing area in Alaska, attracting new residents and new airports within this rapidly developing region. The Borough wants to determine how best to encourage growth in aviation and promote aviation safety and compatible development.

Some of the aviation policy recommendations are: to create an ongoing aviation advisory board; to continue supporting Federal Aviation Administration airspace reviews of new and existing airports; and to set minimum safety development standards for new airports.

"One of the most popular recommendations of the Technical Advisory Committee and others was to make airport mapping readily available to the general public and pilots. There are a lot of airports out there that no one knows about," said Tom Middendorf, Project Manager with DOWL Engineers.

A second part of the study looked at possible location ns for new public airports in the Borough. More than 23 sites were considered in an area south of Big Lake and in another area north of Trapper Creek, where growth is expected. Final candidate sites south of Big Lake were to develop a floatplane base with runway on Seven-mile Lake or add floatplane ponds to either of the existing Big Lake or Goose Bay Airports.

"In spite of all the lakes in the MAT-SU Borough, there is not a single large public floatplane facility with room for multiple aviation businesses, private plane parking and with an adjacent wheeled runway," said Brad Sworts, the Borough's transportation and environmental division manager. "And with Anchorage unable to build any new floatplane slips, this new airport could serve not only the MSB but the entire region," Sworts said.

The other new airport is recommended north of Trapper Creek, either at Mile 121 or Mile 131 of the Parks highway. This would be primarily or exclusively for wheeled planes. The new airport would eventually serve the expected growth in tourism in the South Denali area and residents to the south in Trapper Creek.

Recommendations will be presented at public meetings at Cottonwood Creek Elementary School in Wasilla on Oct. 18 and at the Sunshine Fire Station 11-2 near Talkeetna on Oct. 22. Both meetings start at 6:30 p.m. with an open house followed by presentations and discussion. Following these meetings the recommendations will be made to the Borough Planning Commission and Assembly in late 2007. Pilots have been very active in this project.

Project information is available online at Regional Aviation System Plan Or you may contact Brad Sworts, Planning Transportation Manager, at (907) 746-7430 or DOWL's Project Manager Tom Middendorf at (907) 562-2000.