Akutan wraps big summer projects
Two big new construction projects were built in Akutan this summer, an airport and boat harbor.
The boat harbor's outer breakwaters were built by Knik Construction, funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The installation of docks in the inner harbor is set for 2014, with funding from the Aleutians East Borough, according to Akutan mayor Joe Bereskin.
The airport was built on nearby Akun Island, the community's first airport built on land. The town is still served by an amphibious Grumman Goose that the airport aims to replace. But until bureaucratic issues are worked out, the vintage Goose is still the only airplane making scheduled daily trips to Akutan from Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, operated by Peninsula Airways.
Pen Air has stopped all village service in the region, except for Akutan. Now, Grant Aviation is flying to two villages in the region, Nikolski and Atka, with flights subsidized by the U.S. Postal Service for mail delivery.
In those two villages, the airport situation was unchanged, and the transition between two carriers went smoothly. But Akutan's new airport is on another island, with a hovercraft link to the main island.
The problem is that Grant operates airplanes, and not hovercrafts, and Grant is still trying to work out the details with the postal service. Grant president Bruce McGlasson said Tuesday that he expects the issue will be resolved shortly.
The hovercraft is operated by the Aleutians East Borough, and was formerly based in King Cove.
The hovercraft is driven by Michael Richards, who said he is a 24-year veteran of the Navy with 20 years of experience operating hovercrafts, mostly at Camp Pendleton, California. He is employed by HoverLink, a Seattle company.
The trip from the village to the airport takes about 20 minutes, traveling at speeds of around 40 miles an hour, he said.
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