The City of Old Harbor’s airport is on its way to completion.
The Kodiak Island community identified the need for an airport extension years ago, but didn’t have the funds. So, in 2012, they entered discussion with the Innovative Readiness Training Program, which provides training opportunities for military members while helping under-served communities.
The United States Marine Corps is leading the project and is on the fifth year of working on a 2,000-foot extension of Old Harbor’s airport runway.
Cynthia Berns, Vice President of Community and External Affairs for Old Harbor Native Corporation, says the IRT reservists work on two-week rotations over a few months each summer.
She says this year they started in April and are set to wrap up in July, and she says they’ve been transporting a lot of material.
“And so there’s two hills on the side that have been drilled and blast, and basically moving that material to fill, and this year we have the Arizona National Guard here, and they have a quarry operation that they’re running for us, and so that will be the final grade material that will be utilized.”
Berns says the airport project is just one part of a larger economic development effort.
“We’ve built our harbor, our dock, getting the airfield extended, and then we’re also working on a hydroelectric project, but ultimately these projects will support a fish processing plant that we’ve been interested in developing in our community for many, many years.”
Berns says they’re working on a feasibility study with the University of Alaska detailing what it might look like.
She says the airport project’s end date is still unknown.
“With the state’s budget constraints, we don’t anticipate, of course, any funding from the State of Alaska, so we are really relying on this program, the IRT program, in order to complete the project. So, it really depends on whether or not we have a new unit pick up this project for next year.”
Berns says many different project partners have contributed to strengthening Old Harbor’s infrastructure, including the Old Harbor Village Corporation, the federal government, and the state.
Last week, Senator Dan Sullivan visited the island and dropped by both the cities of Kodiak and Old Harbor.