ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Air Force is planning a $150 million project to extend the runway at Anchorage’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson so it can to reduce airspace congestion and ease jet noise over neighborhoods.
The Air Force plans to extend the north-south runway by 2,500 feet (762 meters) to the north, making that strip the main arrival runway, the Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday.
The current main arrival at the base is the east-west runway, with its approach passing through crowded Anchorage airspace.
"The most important takeaway for the Anchorage area is that this plan will relieve air traffic congestion over the city, which is some of the busiest airspace in the world," said Col. Robert Davis, commander of the base's 3rd Wing. "If we can contribute to air traffic safety in our shared aviation community between JBER, Ted Stevens, Lake Hood and Merrill airfields, I'm all for it."
The project is expected to save the military up to $28 million each year in fuel expenses because the extended runway will allow planes to take more direct routes to and from range areas, he said.
Residents of the Mountain View neighborhood south of the base have urged the Air Force to extend the runway. They have complained that air traffic noise has caused disruptions and some cited concerns the noise could hamper the neighborhood's economic revitalization efforts.
The project involves moving large amounts of earth and disturbing about 28 acres (11 hectares) of wetlands, according to the environmental analysis.
Officials will work with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency to mitigate the loss of wetlands, said Keisha K. Lafayette, an Air Force public affairs specialist.
A start date for construction has not been set, but the extended runaway is expected to be operational by 2025, officials said.