City staff are moving forward with a major airport renovation project, with the hopes of securing more funding in the future. Public Works Director Michael Harmon presented plans and progress to the Sitka Assembly on Tuesday (3-23-21).
The city owns the Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport building, but the airport is operated by the state. According to Harmon, there are safety issues that need to be mitigated–the terminal is congested, the passenger departure lounge is too small and often too hot, there are problems with the TSA screening area, and the addition of Delta Airlines in 2015 made the airport even more congested.
Harmon estimated that the project will cost just over $18 million. So far the city has secured around $4.5 million, Harmon expects the city is likely to receive around $10 million more from the feds and the state. He presented three options to the assembly for moving forward: Do nothing and drop the project entirely, make some smaller adjustments costing between $4 and $7 million, or carry out the full project.
“Looking at doing this in phases if we proceed. We do recommend with proceeding with the full option C build out,” Harmon said. “Do what we can as money becomes available, be patient with it. We’d like to bring a contractor onboard right away to look at more efficient ways we can build this in stages.”
Even if the anticipated funding is secured, the city will likely need to find an additional $3 million somewhere else. And it would take some time for the project to get off the ground.
“This project probably wouldn’t even go to bid until you know, at best, summer of 2022, and how long do you anticipate it’s going to take to build it?” asked assembly member Valorie Nelson.
“We’re probably looking at a two year season to build this, if you’re talking the full build-out,” Harmon said.
The assembly directed Harmon to continue developing the project, and to inform the body of any changes in funding availability. Staff plans to complete the design phase by spring of 2022.