A $27 million renovation of Juneau International Airport, seen here on Aug. 3, 2021, is almost complete, aiming for the end of 2021 or early 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

A $27 million renovation of Juneau International Airport, seen here on Aug. 3, 2021, is almost complete, aiming for the end of 2021 or early 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Airport terminal completion scheduled for arrival early next year

The $27 million overhaul is almost ready to take off.

An overhaul of a Juneau International Airport terminal is approaching completion, aiming for the end of 2021 or beginning of 2022, said the airport’s manager.

While the end is sight, however, there’s still work to be done, said airport manager Patty Wahto in a phone interview.

“Finish is a relative term. We’re going to a soft open for certain sections. The offices we’ll open possibly as early as Friday,” Wahto said. “We still have the center section that will still be under construction for a number of months.”

The largest coming change for the airport’s nearly 1 million annual travelers will be in the main entrance, which will become slightly labyrinthine as travelers are shunted through partitions to a new elevator and escalator while the old ones are taken out, Wahto said.

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“We have to have at least one of the elevators, the stairwell, and the up escalator has to be open before we close down the old one. That will still take a little bit,” Wahto said. “That shouldn’t really have much effect. I’d be surprised if adds another five seconds.”

The far-reaching renovation has been in the works in some form or another since 2005 and is aimed at modernizing the airport, parts of which predate Alaska’s statehood by more than a decade, Wahto said.

“The oldest section is from 1948,” Wahto said. “The infrastructure alone — when you look at the water and sewer, anything coming out of it- was ancient.”

Much of the construction, including to the offices of such entities as the Federal Aviation Administration or the Juneau Police Department, is already completed or nearly so, but there’s still more to do remaining.

“There’s more demo than there is reconstruction,” Wahto said. “We’ve got a lot of the construction done but there’s a lot of demo to do.”

Tenants of the terminal, including companies like Alaska Seaplanes are excited to move into the news space.

“The new terminal is beautiful and it’s going to be a great facility for them, for travelers in Southeast Alaska,” said Alaska Seaplanes president Kent Craford in a phone interview, saying the renovated facility would improve the customer experience.

The entire project cost about $27 million, Wahto said, funded primarily by the FAA but also with support from the city and general obligation bonds to the amount of $5.9 million.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience with this,” Wahto said. “It’s going to be a beautiful terminal.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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