Bethel longs for end to airport runway construction

Alaska's third busiest state-owned airport has been crippled by runway construction this summer, and residents of Bethel are growing impatient. The Federal Aviation Administration has banned instrument approaches on the Bethel runway, and more than 100 Alaska Airlines flights may have been delayed or diverted, reports KYUK.

"I think that the state Department of Transportation has to realize what a serious issue this is for this community," said [City Council member Rick] Robb.

He said the delayed project is beyond an inconvenience. It's affecting the economic life blood of the community and it's a safety concern.

"We have people right now in our hospital that are trying to go to hospitals in Anchorage that can't get out," Robb said. "I happen to work for [the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp.] and I know some individuals right now sitting in beds that can't get out. Some people for days sitting in the hospital. And this is an unacceptable situation."

Materials testing is one thing delaying the project, officials said. The state has promised at least a temporary fix for winter, but that might mean more construction next summer.

Find out more about the problem at KYUK: Bethel airport should be good this winter, says DOT