A $10 million project to improve drainage and resurface parking lots at Juneau International Airport is slated for completion Nov. 1. (Meredith Jordan/ Juneau Empire)

A $10 million project to improve drainage and resurface parking lots at Juneau International Airport is slated for completion Nov. 1. (Meredith Jordan/ Juneau Empire)

Juneau airport project three-quarters of the way through

The primary goal of $10 million effort is to address longstanding drainage issues.

You don’t have to be a frequent flyer to notice the work at Juneau International Airport this summer, given the steady stream of dump and concrete trucks, and the abundance of safety signs and fencing.

The good news is the $10 million project is on schedule for completion Nov. 1, five months after it began.

Just don’t think of it as just a repaving project, even though the biggest portion involves the resurfacing of the employee and long- and short-term parking lots.

“Most of (the improvements) are happening underground, so it’s not like a lot of people are going to see that,” said Ke Mell, the airport’s architect and project manager.

The core design goal was to address decades-long drainage problems for the airport, she said. Flooding has regularly caused problems in the area.

Alex Holden Way, also known as Air Cargo Road, was flooded and closed in January 2022, rerouting businesses like UPS through Gate E. More problematic was deteriorating asphalt, which had left airport parking lots riddled with potholes before the project began.

The project, which officially began with notice to the general contractor on May 30, is funded with CARES money which is administered through the Federal Aviation Administration.

“At the pre-bid conference I told the people who showed up that three things were driving this project,” Mell said. The first thing was that the money expired in April 2024 and the second a reminder that winter was coming.

The third was that “this is an airport and we need to be operational the entire time,” Mel said.

“Not that we won’t be inconvenienced, but we have to be operational.”

The disruption has been minor given everything that has been done, she said. The project included the removal of the old heated walkway, which was needed in order to improve drainage and put in new catch basins. Water that collects in the basins will flow to newly installed drainage structures which connect drainage pipes.

Water will continue to drain to the floatplane pond. However, the main drain line from the parking lot has been moved to allow future expansion of the terminal. That will go to the eastern side of the rental car lot.

Mel said there are no current plans to expand the airport, but if it did the only direction it could happen is east.

“If we can foresee what we might most reasonably do in the future we should keep that option open for ourselves,” she said. “You don’t build a building over an active drain.”

A lot of projects can get pushed through without enough forethought, Mell said.

“Before I came to the airport I was involved in projects where we did something and then a few years later we moved it out to do something else,” she said. “That’s a waste of resources.”

New curbing is in place, including for a new ground transportation pick-up area, and the overall effect will be improved traffic circulation.

On Tuesday there were formwork and rigid insulation materials in place for what will be the new heated walkways.

The new lots, one of which is finished, have been regraded to improve drainage. Extensive use of geotextile, which is under most of the parking lots, helps with drainage, reinforcement and stabilization.

“It contributes to the longevity of the parking lot,” Mell said.

A lot of people have contributed to the project, which is managed by airport personnel. Secon, a Juneau based company, is the general contractor. DOWL, which has a local office, is the engineering consultant for the project.

• Contact Meredith Jordan at meredith.jordan@juneauempire.com or (907) 615-3190.

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