As tree clearing continues for the Talkeetna State Airport Expansion and Improvement Project, the methods being used are not sitting well with some locals. The project has been in development for nearly two decades, and involves paving new parking areas for aircraft and a new taxiway as well as resurfacing existing aprons and taxiways. KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more:
Recently, large pieces of equipment were used to cut down a majority of the trees on the airport side of Second Street in East Talkeetna in addition to cutting at the airport itself.
Talkeetna business owner Holly Sheldon Lee opposes the airport expansion, and says Talkeetna lacks the infrastructure to deal with what she calls “industrial tourism.”
“One of the main reasons that we are not in a position to expand the airport is that our infrastructure is broken, broken by overgrown tourist industry that has evolved here. We are now overrun with 300,000 people in our 100-day summer season with no utility support.”
In addition, Holly Sheldon Lee says the Alaska Department of Transportation and its contractors are breaking promises by moving ahead with the clearing on the grounds of the airport and for an eight-foot-wide walking path along the road.
Last August, work temporarily paused on the project, and officials from the Department of Transportation, including Commissioner Marc Luiken, visited Talkeetna to discuss the project with area residents who were concerned about the large-scale tree clearing going on at that time. One repeated request by some in attendance was to alter the nature of the path along Second Street. Many believe it would be possible to “meander” the planned walking path to avoid cutting some of the trees lining the street. Tom Schmidt, who helped engineer the project, said at the August meeting that space contraints limited the path’s placement. (more…)