U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces $15.5 Million Safety Grant for Kotzebue, Alaska Airport

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a $15.5 million federal grant for Ralph Wien Memorial Airport in Kotzebue, Alaska to expand runway safety areas (RSAs).

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant will help improve RSAs at both ends of Runway 9/27, which is the longer of the airport’s two runways. RSAs protect passengers and crew if an aircraft overruns, undershoots, or veers off the side of the runway.

“This project is part of our ongoing investment in this country’s infrastructure,” said Secretary LaHood. “It will make travel safer for everyone who uses Ralph Wien Memorial Airport.”

“Enhancing runway safety areas is a national priority for the FAA,” Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. “We are pleased to provide critical infrastructure support to enhance safety in the Alaska region.”

Ralph Wien Memorial Airport serves several passenger and cargo airlines and is the primary connection to other parts of Alaska and the United States for a number of remote communities.

The RSA work at Ralph Wien is complex because Runway 9/27 is surrounded by water. The project will shift the 5,900-foot runway 200 feet to the east, move a lagoon channel, remove a portion of a hill, and create a new sea wall to protect the west end of the runway. More than 170,000 cubic yards of clean fill will be delivered by barge to Kotzebue for use in this project.

Work is expected to begin in October and be completed in late 2014.

The FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP) provides $3.35 billion in annual funding for projects that are vital to maintaining the safety, capacity, and environmental stewardship of our nation’s airports. More than 3,300 airports are eligible for AIP grants benefiting commercial passengers, cargo operations, and general aviation activities throughout the nation.

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