PDC led this project to improve safety and correct the deficiencies of the existing airport apron and Maintenance and Operation (M&O) facilities as identified in the recently updated Airport Master Plan. The project shifted the existing taxilane, extended the North Apron to the East, and constructed a new pad and access road for an M&O building.
The project included several environmental challenges, including extensive wetlands, endangered species (eiders), and cultural resources. PDC led the Environmental Assessment for this project and oversaw all environmental permits, including an innovative wetland mitigation strategy, to allow construction of the airport improvements.
To assist DOT in acquiring a wetland permit, PDC identified some out of the box mitigation options and, with the DOT and Corps of Engineers (COE), evaluated their practicality and ability to comply with COE guidelines. These options included:
- Development of hardened trail system to encourage ATV traffic to stay on the trail vs further destroying vegetation every time the old trail got too muddy. This was coupled with restoration of disturbed wetland areas.
- A program involving wetlands education and local students doing hands-on vegetation repair around the Isatkoak Lagoon (Barrow’s drinking water source).
- A plan to help fund a start-up program that Ilisagvik school focused on watershed education and restoration of wetlands. Raising awareness is known to be the 1st step in any prevention program. Preventing future wetlands destruction is as important as restoring existing wetland disturbances.
The preferred mitigation was to remove abandoned power lines. The power lines have long been known to be a contributing factor to the mortality of Eiders. By removing the lines the functional value of the surrounding wetlands was raised. PDC’s involvement in the project helped the DOT, COE, and USFWS achieve their goals to make this a win-win option for all involved.