Airport North Gate renovation project still up in the air

Cost, lack of funding slowing progress

Juneau International Airport Manager Patty Wahto speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its weekly luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, May 10, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The North Gate of the Juneau International Airport desperately needs a renovation, but it’s unknown when that will happen.


Patty Wahto, airport manager, said the initial plans to demolish the outdated gate by April 2019 to make way for the new one has been delayed.

“I would like to say they have been put on temporary hold,” Wahto said during the Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday. “I would like to keep things going.”

The delay is mostly mostly due to the high cost of the project: $38 million. Due to the lack of funding, moving forward is proving to be difficult. Wahto said with funds, bonds and facility/passenger fees combined, only $15 million of that has been raised so far.

In place of a full renovation, Wahto presented the Chamber options of what the airport could do instead. The airport could just keep repairing the aging elevators and escalators. However, she said it would end up costing the airport more in the long-term to keep repairing them rather than replacing them.

“This is really just a ‘lipstick’ option,” Wahto said. “You can only put lipstick on so many times. I do not think this is a good idea.”

Congestion inside and outside the terminal is another problem, Wahto said. One idea to cut the terminal into two different parts would free up space for the current tenants — Alaska Seaplanes and Harris Air — to have cargo loading zones. But if terminal is divided, the airport could only lease the space and would not have operational control.

“We had a couple consultants who came in with questions about the control of the terminal,” Wahto said. “We want to make sure we have their questions answered before move forward with that.”

During a public hearing on April 3 at the airport, there was concern about access between the main terminal to the North Gate. Because there would be a divide, anyone wishing to move between the terminals would then have to go outside.

Despite the current limitations, Wahto said, the airport is not giving up on the project.

“We are still thinking about it,” she said. “We need to move forward on this.”

Wahto said she is open to suggestions from anyone who thinks they can help.

“If you have a really good idea, give me a call or stop by the office,” she said.

• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.


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