Alaska to Build $64M 'Runway to Nowhere'

Akutan strip will mostly be funded by federal taxpayers
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2011 10:59 AM CDT
The Alaskan island of Akutan is seen in this file photo.   (US Fish and Wildlife Service)
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(Newser) – Meet the Bridge to Nowhere’s little brother. Alaska is preparing to build a $64 million, 4,500-foot runway on tiny Akun Island, with the federal government footing the vast majority of the bill ($59 million to the state’s $5 million), according to an Alaska Dispatch report spotted by CNN. The problem? The nearest village is on the island of Akutan, 6 miles away across the treacherous Bering Sea.

The plan was to cross that water using a $13 million hovercraft, but those have proven unreliable elsewhere in Alaska, so transportation officials are now looking into helicopters. And the community benefiting from the project is tiny—Akutan has a year-round population of just 100 people, which grows to 1,000 in the summer thanks to workers from Trident Seafoods’ processing plant. Until now, they’ve relied on World War II-era amphibious aircraft, which are becoming increasingly hard to keep in the air.

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