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Why you’re hearing a lot more jet noise over Anchorage right now

An ACE Air Cargo plane taxis past construction equipment after landing on the east-west runway at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Friday. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

Have you been hearing more noise from jets, or seeing more aircraft flying overhead in Anchorage this week?

A main runway at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is closed for repairs, temporarily shifting airline traffic and causing increased aircraft noise for homes east of the airport, officials said Friday.

The north-south runway at the airport was closed June 18 and will partially reopen around July 8, said Jim Szczesniak, airport manager. In the meantime, all flights are using the other runways, which run east to west.

Normally, when planes depart and arrive at the airport, they do so over the waters of Cook Inlet, Szczesniak said, so there's less noise impact on the community.

But with the north-south runway closed, flights are taking off to the east. Around 150 to 175 flights a day are temporarily flying over Anchorage as they depart, said Trudy Wassel, airport division operations manager.

The departing planes then either turn north or south, depending on their route, Szczesniak said.

The 2018-19 Ted Stevens International Airport runway construction schedule. (Alaska Department of Transportation)

"People aren't accustomed to this," Szczesniak said.

Once the north-south runway is partially opened in July, the number of aircraft departing to the east is expected to be cut by about half, Szczesniak said — but some level of increased noise will remain through early October, which marks the end of the summer construction season. The runway will return to full operations in the winter.

In the summer of 2019, however, the runway rehabilitation will enter another phase. The north-south runway will be fully closed for the entire season, so some Anchorage residents can expect increased noise next summer through October 2019.

The $70 million infrastructure project is a "critical rehabilitation" of the runway, Szczesniak said. The runway was last repaired 15 years ago.

More information about the rehabilitation project is available on the airport's runway renewal project webpage.

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