Airport Security Issues
Mr. Mark Madden
Professor of Aviation
University of Alaska Anchorage
3211 Providence Dr.
Anchorage, AK 99510
POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed the need for security measures to
protect airport and airline employees.
Ms. Karen Casanova, Executive Director
Alaska Air Carriers Association
929 E. 81st Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99518
POSITION STATEMENT: Asked for legislative support of the
Medallion Foundation program and discussed needs of the airline
Mr. Bob Hajdukovich
Alaska Air Carriers Association
929 E. 81st Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99518
POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed affect of FAA emergency regulations
on Alaska's airline carriers.
Mr. Bill Bear
PO Box 875493
Wasilla AK 99687
POSITION STATEMENT: Suggested ideas for security measures.
Mr. Allan Heese, Manager
City and Borough of Juneau
155 So. Seward St.
Juneau AK 99801
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions about security measures
taken at the Juneau International Airport and permitting
Mr. Mike Barton, Chair
Juneau Airport Board
City and Borough of Juneau
155 So. Seward
Juneau, AK 99801
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions about security measures
taken at the Juneau International Airport and discussed ways the
state can help locally owned airports.
Mr. Gary Nelson
Anchorage AK 99503
POSITION STATEMENT: Expressed concern about providing security
measures that include protection of disabled passengers.
Mr. Jim O'Meara
4001 W. International Airport Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99502
POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed benefits of carrying laser guns on
Mr. Mort Plumb
Ted Stevens International Airport
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities
PO Box 196960
Anchorage, AK 99519
POSITION STATEMENT: Updated the committee on the status of
operations at the Ted Stevens International Airport.
Mr. Mike Nolan
243 E 5th Ave.
POSITION STATEMENT: Described the three zones of security plans.
Ms. Jennifer Rudinger
Alaska Civil Liberties Union
PO Box 201844
Anchorage, AK 99520
POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed security measures supported by the
AkCLU and constitutional issues.
Mr. Frank Dillon
Alaska Truckers Association
Anchorage, AK 99501
POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed the affects on and measures taken
by the Alaska Truckers Association in dealing with airline
Mr. Horace Black
No address provided
POSITION STATEMENT: Made suggestions but stated denying cockpit
access is most critical to airline security.
Dr. Petra Illit
Aviation Medical Examiner
POSITION STATEMENT: Made suggestions and advised that new airport
security measures will require a paradigm shift.
Ms. Cindy Kroon, Manager
POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed transport of prisoners on
commercial airline flights.
Mr. Dean Riverson
No address provided
POSITION STATEMENT: As a security advisor, made several
suggestions to improve security aboard aircraft.
Mr. John Suter
No address provided
POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed his employment experience at the
Mr. Dan Zantac
No address provided
POSITION STATEMENT: Suggested prohibiting carry-on baggage.
Mr. John Linell
No address provided
POSITION STATEMENT: As a former international airline employee
expressed concern that airline security in the United States is
too loose and made suggestions.
Mr. Paul Landis
POSITION STATEMENT: Supports recommendations made to the Bush
Administration by the major airlines and cautioned about long
term affects of new security measures on general aviation.
Chief Wilbur Hooks
Ted Stevens International Airport Police
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions about law enforcement
Mr. Anthony Lloyd
POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed personal experience with security
Mr. Richard Weaver
No address provided
POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed the need for Sky Caps at airports.
Mr. Richard Harding
Vice President of Penn Air
No address provided
POSITION STATEMENT: Recounted personal experience flying in
Soviet Union and asked that decisions not be made in haste so
that civil liberties remain protected.
Mr. Steve Haggar
Airline Pilots Association
No address provided
POSITION STATEMENT: Supports many suggestions made and asked for
help in discussing with the FAA use of extra seat in cockpit.
TAPE 01-21, SIDE A
CHAIRMAN JOHN COWDERY called the Senate Transportation Committee
meeting to order at 9:05 a.m. Present were Senators Ward, Elton,
Wilken, and Cowdery. Also present were Representatives Fate and
Ogan. Chairman Cowdery announced the purpose of today's meeting
is to help build public confidence in airline travel and to hear
public ideas on how to improve safety measures, and to discuss
who should be responsible for federally mandated security and the
cost of that security. He noted that airline industry officials
were present to listen to the comments.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said that committee has had a tremendous
response from Alaskans statewide. Some of those ideas and
suggestions are as follows:
· sky marshals and canine attack dogs on board aircraft
· unbreakable cockpit doors
· airport security should be a federal responsibility
· more visual armed police in the airports with canine
· more screening for ramp personnel
· build a data base on travelers - those in the data base
could experience faster check-in time - data would prove who
travelers are at the airport
· depressurize cabin if there are problems
· no carry on baggage
· use voice stress analysis continuously during passenger
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said he received one e-mail from Ms. Kathleen
Stevenson that was particularly typical. It read:
Dear John Cowdery: Thank you for caring. I do think
more discussions need to be about ground service
employees. Screening of these people has to be
stronger. There is no doubt in my mind that the knives
used were placed in the seat pockets before they
boarded the planes. Maybe we should not assign seats
until check in?
I also feel that English should be the only language
spoken by screeners while on the job. I have more than
once thought it was not right that the screener would
chatter in their foreign language. If the conversation
was personal, there is no excuse as they are not giving
full attention to their jobs. It is also rude to the
I am very sick of hearing how people are not traveling.
This has been a week we have all sat back waiting to
see what's next. Will there be a military attack and
when? This is a time we want to be close to family and
stare at the TV. The lay offs and media talk about how
business is slow. 'No one is going to Disneyland or
Vegas or New York.'
Would it make the skeptics feel better if we were
laughing away on a ride or gambling away with a drink
This week we have needed to stand back, not because of
fear, but out of respect. We should be hugging our
children and waiving our flags.
Please find ways to encourage Delta, United and others
not to drop Alaska. Before this happened tickets to
Seattle were at $400. It will not be long before we
will be at the 1980 ticket prices ($550). We need to
keep the competition here, if not to keep the prices
down, but also to justify the great new airport we are
building for Alaska Airlines and the others. This may
be a good time to halt the great railroad service to
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said that statement shows that the public is
SENATOR WARD said he was asked over the weekend about the federal
legislation that authorized $5 billion in grants and loans. He
wanted to know if someone from the airlines or the Department of
Transportation and Public Facilities (DOTPF) could tell him
whether any of that money will come to the State of Alaska to be
CHAIRMAN COWDERY replied that in these times, the airline
industry people are justified in keeping their comments limited
to the general area of what they're doing rather than what's
going on in Washington, D.C.
SENATOR WARD asked if the State of Alaska is under some form of
obligation in any way with that legislation.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY replied that we are bound to abide by any
regulations the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) makes.
MR. MARK MADDEN, Professor of Aviation at the University of
Alaska Anchorage, said he is involved in commercial aviation
safety. He said a lot of news and ideas on this subject have been
generated and all agree that, from a security standpoint, certain
areas of aviation safety have needed attention for a long time.
However, the atmosphere has not warranted the need until now. One
area pertains to employee security measures to help employees. He
Airport security in a rural area, from an employee's
standpoint, is where the employees are allowed to enter
and exit a secured area, an area that can be
compromised rather easily. It's not that difficult for
someone to force an airline employee to let him on to a
Let me give you an example of a company that does an
excellent job of employee security screening on a daily
basis and that's the Fed Ex operation out here at
Anchorage International. All the employees enter
through one location onto the airport operations area
and into the building facilities by Fed Ex that are
owned by Fed Ex. They have to go through the metal
detectors, anything they bring in with them also has to
go through x-ray machines and they also have security
people that are actually there - not one or two, but
several. In addition, there's also closed circuit TV.
This is an excellent way to help our employees do the
job they are supposed to do. It also helps them to
avoid any kind of security compromise.
Now, for this particular operation they have just
reason to do that same security screening when the
employees leave every day, because of the nature of
their business. That's something that's appropriate for
them; it may not necessarily be appropriate for the
passenger industry ....
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said surely changes would be forthcoming at the
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said that when he worked as a construction
worker at airports, airport security was wide open and workers
had full access. He believes there is no way to make the airline
industry completely safe from people who want to do harm but that
some aspects could be improved.
MS. KAREN CASSANOVA, Executive Director, Alaska Air Carriers
Association, said she represents approximately 87 air carriers
across the state. She read the following into the record.
...Our Alaskan operators have shouldered an economic
impact in an industry that was already in recession.
This will surely send it into a full-fledged
depression. We must have relief to rebuild, to recover.
First, relief from the state and federal government for
the severe cash crash air carriers will face in the
absence of new ticketed passengers needs to be
immediate and for the long-term.
Aviation represents 10 percent of our gross domestic
product. That's $700 billion of a $7 trillion economy.
Alaska comprises 20 percent of the land mass of the
U.S., making commercial and air taxi operators in
Alaska a vital component of the transportation system.
Without direct government financial intervention, we
see many air carriers unable to operate at a level
essential for the traveling public. Costs for increased
security measures, insurance, and staff training will
leave owners no choice but to downsize their
operations, decrease flight frequency and lay off
Second, rebuild. Public confidence is the next step
needed to turn around the outlook for the airlines. Who
can forget those frightening images we have viewed
since Tuesday? We must address safety by instilling
security and peace of mind for all consumers.
[Indisc.] equipment insulation, accurate weather
reporting and the Alaska Air Carriers Association
Medallion Foundation will aid in the safety of each
The Medallion Foundation is a five-star program, which
recognizes air carriers who have met a higher standard
of operation and maintained that level for one year.
This organization will provide education in safety
reporting, simulator training, flight coordination,
risk assessment, maintenance and ground service
control. It is time to implement a program designed by
the users of the system. The Medallion Foundation is
dedicated to assist operators in their effort to reduce
air carrier accidents and incidents in Alaska, provide
a safer environment for travelers. The Alaska Air
Carrier Association has a [indisc.] of education and
training. Please join us in restoring public confidence
and rebuilding our operation by providing funding for
Medallion. Expenses for marketing air travel and travel
related industries will rise if these are not addressed
MS. CASSANOVA said that regarding recovery, analysts estimate the
airline industry has suffered about $6.5 billion in losses. With
all airline stocks either flat or declining at a steady level,
poor risk and whole liability insurance cancelled, some airlines
have been placed on credit watch while others are under
surveillance. With 384 commercial Alaskan operators, Alaska has
13 percent of the total number of commercial air carriers in the
United States. However, unlike in the Lower 48 states, these
carriers provide the essential cargo, mail and food delivery to
rural communities. These carriers have 76 times as many commuter
flights per capita as the remaining portion of the U.S. She
Air travel for these people is not needed, it's
demanded. The dependence on transportation for medical
emergencies, government travel, business contracts,
school trips and health care needs to be first
priority. Without the assistance of our state and
federal governments, there is no way our industry can
survive at the current reduced level. The Alaskan Air
Carriers urges you to aid in restoring our economic
health and strength. Please recognize our extraordinary
vulnerability, accept this challenge, and do what you
can to provide relief so we can rebuild and recover.
SENATOR ELTON asked what the state can do.
MS. CASSANOVA replied that the state could provide assistance to
help the air carriers implement the Medallion Foundation program,
which would improve safety training in ground service control and
other programs. She stated, "We want to give the tools for air
carriers to be able to address these issues and kind of a
template for them to be able to go out then and train their
SENATOR ELTON asked whether the FAA mandates have been designed
for the rest of the United States and do not take into account
some of the unique circumstances in Alaska. He asked Ms.
Casanova if she has found that to be true and, if so, in what
MS. CASSANOVA responded that Alaska was able to resume air
service within a few days versus some of the other areas of the
United States that struggled for a week before air service was
resumed. She said the air carriers see Alaska as different
because they provide so much air transportation for many
different parts of the state. The air carriers believe the
Medallion program will provide training for measures they see as
necessary and it is above and beyond what the FAA requires. The
carrier would have to achieve in five different parts from pilot
simulator training to additional ground surface training.
SENATOR ELTON asked her to provide a copy of the Medallion
program to the committee.
SENATOR WARD asked Ms. Casanova to provide the committee with a
website address for the Medallion program and asked how long it
has been in effect. He asked whether it was created recently and
whether it was something the air carriers were planning to do
before the September 11 tragedy.
MS. CASSANOVA answered it is a program that has been proven by
other carriers using similar programs in Alaska. The Medallion
program was developed within the Alaska Aircraft Carriers
Association by its members. They feel it is the cornerstone to
providing safer air transportation for the traveling public. It
can also be used as a marketing tool now with declining revenues.
SENATOR WARD asked if it has a track record the committee could
MS. CASSANOVA replied it does.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY acknowledged the presence of Senator Taylor.
SENATOR LEMAN asked if the Aircraft Carriers Association has
submitted a budget request to the legislature for the Medallion
program and, if so, what vehicle was used.
MS. CASSANOVA replied that they haven't requested funding in the
past because they wanted to build a good track record first. They
hope to seek funding through the legislative process and she
assumes it will be requested through DOTPF. She asked if he had
SENATOR LEMAN commented that he hadn't seen it come through as a
budget request in the Senate Finance Committee.
MR. BILL BEAR, an air taxi operator from Wasilla, said he has
been operating his business for 10 years after retiring from the
Air Force. While in the military, he was involved in problem
solving. He said that while brainstorming is an important part
of the problem solving process, it is only one of about seven
components. He asked what problem the state is trying to solve.
Is it anti-hijacking in Alaska? Is it airline safety? Is it
airline security? Each one of those involves some of the others
or excludes some of the others. He asked what assumptions and
facts will be included in this gathering of knowledge, what
criteria will be used to test the criteria and whether there are
fiscal or operational constraints.
MR. BEAR pointed out that it's important to not eliminate any
suggestions during the brainstorming session. That comes later
when solutions are tested against established criteria. He asked
what the criteria would be for an acceptable solution to the
problem. He said some recommendations that come to mind, if the
committee is focusing on reducing the threat of terrorism, are:
· share the cost of air marshals,
· include holders of concealed carry weapons as a resource to
provide security on aircraft,
· additional pre-departure inspections of passenger cabins to
search overhead bins and seat pockets.
MR. BEAR said he heard that an aircraft captain in the Midwest
announced to the passengers recently:
We have new guidance on what to do now. Just remember,
first of all, there's no bomb on the airplane. I can
assure you of that. If we have anybody that tries to
take over this airplane, there will be two or three or
four or five, but remember, you outnumber them by eight
or 10 to one. Number one, distract them. Throw things
at them. Number two, somebody throw a blanket over them
and the rest of you sit on them. And then we will take
the airplane to the nearest airport and have them
He thought air carriers needed to come up with new procedures and
include anti-terrorism tactics in passenger briefings. He noted,
"We're not going to scare people any more. They are already
scared. It's time to talk reality."
CHAIRMAN COWDERY commented that he has an e-mail that covers some
of the suggestions made by Mr. Bear for anyone interested in a
SENATOR ELTON asked if the Wasilla airport is a state airport.
MR. BEAR said he believes it is state funded but managed by the
city of Wasilla.
SENATOR ELTON asked Mr. Bear about his reactions as an operator
at a small airport to changes that happened over the last couple
MR. BEAR responded that he primarily operates on floats in the
summer and that most of his business occurs in late summer off of
Lake Lucille. He has one airplane. He offered to gather
information from other operators and the airport manager for
Senator Elton. Since the attack on the 11th, everything stopped
for awhile. Now there is reduced activity.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY informed participants that any information made
available to him would be distributed to all committee members
and that he intends to create a summary of the comments of this
meeting and provide it to Alaska's congressional delegation.
MR. BOB HAJDUKOVICH, President of the Alaska Air Carriers
Association, informed committee members that a lot of the initial
reactions imposed by the FAA have to do with Part 108 airports.
Only state-owned airports can handle 60 or more seat aircraft and
those will be affected by the new regulations, which are very
strict. He doesn't believe smaller community airports will not
undergo major changes or restrictions.
MR. MIKE BARTON, Chairman of the Juneau International Airport
Board, said regarding revenues, in general airports go the way
the airlines go because airport revenues include such things as
landing fees. He suspects cost will rise because of new security
requirements. The ability of locally-owned airports to handle
this financial difficulty differs but many will need state help.
He suggested the state can do three things to help local airports
meet upcoming challenges:
· Continue to provide the local match for federally funded
· Provide funds for projects that are not eligible for federal
funds. Large capital investments will be required to meet
security mandates, for example changes to parking areas; and
· Streamline the state permitting process and encourage the
federal government to do the same. Permitting requirements
are often time consuming and costly.
He pointed out that the financial challenges and needs of
locally-owned airports are somewhat different from state-owned
SENATOR ELTON said he is interested in the permitting process
because changes to the physical structures of state airports will
have to occur. He asked how long it typically takes to get a
permit from the time of application and to go from plan to
MR. BARTON said the permitting cost of an ongoing project in
Juneau is $3 million on a $12 million project. Generally,
permitting costs equal about 20 percent of the cost of the
MR. ALLAN HEESE, Juneau International Airport Manager, said they
have been working on an EIS for a Juneau airport project for at
least four years and it would probably be complete in a year. The
problem with Juneau, as with many airports, is that wetlands butt
up against the airport. Wetlands are a problem when you want to
make changes around the perimeter of the airport. He estimated
that the permit process for any security-related projects could
take up to a year.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked what percentage of the permitting delays
would be federal and what would be state or local.
MR. HEESE replied that they are almost one and the same.
MR. MIKE BARTON, Chairman of the Juneau Airport Board, responded
that certain activities require state permits while others
require federal permits so the state is also a key player.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked if any city permits are necessary.
MR. BARTON said yes, but they are relatively minor.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY commented that municipal permitting problems
regarding the Anchorage airport project were not easy to solve.
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked what an airport's role is regarding
security and whether security responsibility is shared with the
MR. HEESE replied that in Juneau, the airport and the airline
work closely together. The airport is responsible for the
security of the physical plant. The airline is concerned about
those who enter and disembark from aircraft. The airport board
deals with parking issues, terminal security in areas where
people bring bags or might leave a bag unattended, and products
and materials sold at the airport.
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN expressed concern about who oversees vendors
and deliveries to vendors in secure areas.
MR. HEESE said that different airports handle security somewhat
differently. At Juneau, since the only major air carrier is
Alaska Airlines, the airline is solely responsible for entry into
the screening and boarding area. Other airports with multiple
carriers use coalitions of contractors but the airport would be
responsible for vehicles outside of secure areas.
SENATOR ELTON expressed concern that he has heard the passenger
security facility in Juneau is run by airline employees in entry
level positions who generally want to move up the ladder and get
paid higher wages.
MR. HEESE said his understanding is that they are not highly paid
and consider those positions to be a stepping stone.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked about the hourly wage for airport
MR. HEESE said in Juneau, security workers are paid about $12 to
$15 per hour.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked if Juneau has union contracts.
MR. HEESE explained, "In Juneau we have the Juneau Police
Department, which provides the law enforcement officers for more
serious types of situations. Security at the airport itself is
provided by contract security."
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked who would be in charge of the parking lot
MR. HEESE answered that would come under the purview of contract
security. He pointed out they are well trained and that some have
prior law enforcement backgrounds.
SENATOR ELTON asked if the Juneau airport is now required to have
a uniformed city police officer or state trooper at the airport
when planes arrive and depart.
MR. HEESE said that is an area he would prefer not to provide
details about. He guessed that small airports without contract
security must have a police officer on the premises.
TAPE 01-21, SIDE B
MR. BARTON commented that no one disputes the need for improved
security but he believes it is important to provide individuals
who are well trained in certain tasks but that it is not
necessarily important to require a full trained police officer be
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said he is inclined to believe that the security
should be a federal obligation and that there should be federal
screening of "whoever does it, or the feds should do it
themselves." He noted that he has been overseas, and that
although Israel Airlines is right in the middle of things in the
Middle East, he thinks they have never had a hijacking; they have
a high degree of security, and it is equivalent to federal
SENATOR WARD, after mentioning that parking has been moved back
at the Kenai Airport and that luggage in general and carry-on-
baggage in particular is being subjected to a great deal more
inspection, noted that the public is not only more than willing
to participate in these procedures, but is also willing to look
at other types of procedures and has been volunteering to give up
their rights to guarantee that they are safe and that other
people are safe when they get on the plane. He said he would
like to know how and when the flying public is going to be
allowed to offer input, either in the form of surveys,
interviews, or other means. He asked whether anybody is
intending to provide such a format.
MR. BARTON said he is sure that the flying public will let its
opinion be known, but he is not sure whether it will take the
form of a survey. He surmised that the Juneau International
Airport would not be doing it; "Our contribution to that is
fairly minor in the grand scheme of things." He added that he
expected that in other places "those sorts of things" would be
SENATOR WARD asked whether the Juneau International Airport could
facilitate the airlines "doing it?"
MR. BARTON said that they would be pleased to help in any way
they can, if the airlines wanted to do it, [the Juneau
International Airport] would be glad to provide assistance.
SENATOR WARD relayed that at the Kenai Airport, literally half
the people waiting in line were talking about ways of making
flights safer. It's clearly on everybody's mind, he added, and
opined that "we" have a vast untapped resource of [ideas] from
those who actually make use of the airline industry.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY added that in his opinion, they should not
burden the airline industry with any further expense. The two
days that the airports were closed cost the airline industry
about $3 billion. Even though they will be given $5 million, it
is still not very much in the overall scheme of things; therefore
any addition financial burden should be borne by the "feds."
SENATOR WARD pointed out that the public does want to become
engaged and offer solutions, and that he did not mean to imply
that this process would cost the airline industry any more money.
SENATOR ELTON opined that a lot of the focus has appropriately
been on the airlines - the amount of money that they have lost
and the amount of money that they anticipate losing in the future
- but he suggested that the most telling part of this testimony
is that for many airports, when the airlines lose money and
passengers, then the airports are losing money as well because of
fuel flow, costs that would normally be recouped, parking area
costs, passenger facility fees, and a whole range of things that
boil down to lower revenues for vendors because they have lower
revenues. Therefore, what happens to the airlines is happening
to the airports at the same time: their costs are going to
SENATOR TAYLOR thanked Mr. Barton and Mr. Heese for their
testimony, but he noted that communities such as Petersburg and
Wrangell, for example, are being required to have armed police
officers on location an hour before and an hour after flights, as
well as during the whole time that the plane is on the ground.
In fact, the FAA wanted airports to have two officers available
at airports, which has caused tremendous difficulties for these
communities because they only have so many officers to go around.
In a small town, he opined, "you" can't afford to take half of
the police force and designate it only to one task. These
communities are literally going to have to go out and hire police
SENATOR TAYLOR said that "we" have been assured by Joe Perkins,
Commissioner of DOT&PF, that DOT&PF would provide funding, and
Mr. Perkins is assuming, of course, that funding for security
will come from the federal government to assist Alaska in it's
budgeting processes as "we" goes through it this next year.
However, between now and the time that the legislature gets back,
"we've" got some problems and that's how they're being addressed.
Senator Taylor also relayed that there seems to be an awful lot
of reactionary regulations from the FAA; for example, in the
history of air traffic in the United States, "we" haven't had
anybody blown up from the parking lot, yet FAA immediately knee-
jerks and says, "Oh, can't use half of your parking lots now;
they're too close to the building."
SENATOR TAYLOR posited that when such a regulation was imposed on
Wrangell and Petersburg, it would have prevented anyone from
driving to the airport. The 300-foot barrier extended out from
the terminal, and cut off the entire state highway - 300 feet
away from the buildings so no one could drive down the state
highway. They modified that, and now people can drive up by the
building but have to park clear over on the other side of the
road. He said one wonders when somebody is going to start
looking at the practical side of this, the enforceable side of
this, and start using a little bit of common sense. Right now
all "we're" seeing is a lot of reaction, and most of the
reactions, to those of us that travel any amount, don't make any
sense. He then requested comments from Mr. Barton and Mr. Heese.
MR. BARTON said there is no question that there were some pretty
severe measures put in place by the FAA, but until the situation
becomes clear, "I suspect they will continue to be modified as
FAA learns more information." He said he also suspects that the
FAA is operating on the safe side, which is what everyone wanted.
He said he did not know the specifics of the FAA's plans.
SENATOR TAYLOR said that what he is asking is whether anybody is
relating any of this to the FAA. He also asked how much parking
the Juneau airport lost.
MR. BARTON replied that the Juneau International Airport lost a
third of the parking area as well as the entire lot reserved for
rental cars. He noted that this resulted in quite a loss of
revenues, which the FAA is aware of.
SENATOR TAYLOR said that his concern is that Mr. Heese talked in
terms of a "sterile area," in Juneau, because of the size of
aircraft being loaded and FAA requirements; "you" then talk about
I happen to know that when I walk out of the Juneau
terminal to get on an LAB flight to go to, say, Skagway
or Haines, I'm walking on exactly the same tarmac, and
right along side of, in essence, the guy who's walking
out to get on flight 64 or flight 65, neither of which
are connected up to a tube, so both of us, as
passengers, walk out of the terminal carrying our
little bags, side by side. ... One part of the
terminal is supposed to be "sterile" and the other part
is supposed to be - I guess - "un-sterile," but both of
us are walking on the same tarmac. It wouldn't take
anything for a guy with a ticket to go to LAB - been
through no check at all - grabs his little handbag and
runs across and he and his four buddies run up the ramp
and take over an Alaska Airlines' plane.
MR. BARTON's response was inaudible.
SENATOR TAYLOR clarified that his question is: "Is it truly a
problem that needs to be addressed, or are we fabricating
problems in our minds?" Apparently, he added, a person can't
park next to the terminal, but that same person could still walk
right on the tarmac. If that's the case, he remarked, then
somebody needs to suggest, to whoever it may be that's in
authority, that we need to have some practical answers; he said
he agreed with Senator Ward, the people standing in line are
willing to provide some great resources, information, and unique
ideas to people at the FAA level who may need them. "We need
that help before we all start going through a whole bunch of
things that have literally absolutely no effect on the ability of
someone to take over an aircraft," he stated.
MR. BARTON said he is sure that anyone involved in the aviation
industry would be pleased to have any suggestions from anybody at
any time. However, these requirements are federally mandated
SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the people from Juneau have made any new
suggestions to the FAA and, if so, what they are.
MR. HEESE responded that they are having conversations with the
FAA in order to figure out how best to address these issues. He
said he would not argue that there aren't some things that have
been mandated that are not clearly logical. For example, the
fence around an airport or any other facility is for the most
part designed to keep the honest people out. The situation in
Juneau, where there are "the 135 carriers" on the same tarmac as
"the 121 carriers," is one issue that they are going to address,
along with other issues regarding measures that will come into
play should someone try to do something that is not in the
interest of aviation safety and security. He opined that
everyone recognizes that not every possible terrorist attack or
security risk can be prevented; they are, however, trying to deal
with as many as possible in the best way possible. They are all
learning as they go.
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN remarked that "we" might not be able to do
everything. People need to accept the fact that there are
certain risks in life. He said that he is willing to take some
risks in exchange for liberties. He posited that if enough
Alaskans were on every flight in America, should someone attempt
to take the planes over, the Alaskan passengers would engage the
attackers. He stated that there is no way, short of living in a
totalitarian state, to make it safe for everybody; "let's do what
we can, but let's not overreact."
MR. GARY NELSON, Community Advocate Coordinator, Southcentral
Region, said during the bomb attacks at the World Trade Center, a
lot of people in wheelchairs were left aside. He said he would
like to see airlines offer more assistance to people with special
needs, even if it takes longer. He noted that in the past, when
he has traveled throughout the state and the country, he has been
searched but his wheelchair was not. He also noted that often,
people in wheelchairs are simply left on the side and not dealt
with in a timely manner.
MR. JOHN SUTER, former airport employee, explained that he worked
at the Anchorage airport for five years. He said one and a half
years ago, he was in a sand truck and almost had a direct head on
collision out on the runway, and the manager came to him and told
him he had to take full responsibility for that. He said that he
developed a seven-point safety plan, which he submitted to the
FAA to prevent that from happening again. The airport management
failed to move on his plan.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked Mr. Suter to limit his testimony to
MR. SUTER detailed parts of his plan: runway lights should be
turned on before the runway is accessed; don't use parallel
runways; the foreman in charge on the night of his near accident
failed to get the lights on or engage the ground radar; if the
visibility is poor, personnel should get off the runway; it
should be in writing that a person won't get fired simply for
following safety precautions when they conflict with a
supervisor's demands. He noted that he was reprimanded by his
employer for reporting security violations; employees need
protection against this sort of backlash. He stated that the FAA
only protects their own, not airport employees. The Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) only protects
contractors, not airport employees. He suggested that there
should be an agency in the state that will guarantee protection
for employees who speak out against lax security situations at
MR. JIM O'MEARA, President, Greatland Laser, explained that his
company is involved in providing airport runways with laser
lighting. An associate company of his has been involved for
several years in developing non-lethal deterrents - "laser
flashlights". He noted that the Air Force Surgeon General and
the military police are using them in the Air Force. He
suggested that these implements could be used to deter drunks,
troublesome persons, and hijackers, rather than having air
marshals carry live ammunition onboard planes. He then provided
a demonstration, which showed that this implement is efficient
because when it is directed at a person's eyes, he/she is unable
to look back at, or come near the person holding the implement.
He mentioned that the cost of this implement is approximately
MS. JENNIFER RUDINGER, Executive Director, Alaska Civil Liberties
Union (AkCLU), stated that clearly there is a need for heightened
security in airports and on airplanes; nobody disputes that. She
said she was heartened to hear Representative Ogan's comments
about not turning this country into a totalitarian state in "our"
efforts to protect security, and not sacrificing everything that
makes this country great, i.e. civil liberties and freedom.
There is a way to do both: we can protect our freedom and we can
also increase safety. The AkCLU has some comments on a number of
proposals before Congress. It is important to protect both
passengers and civil liberties. The AkCLU believes that three
principles should be applied to air travel safety: One, new
security proposals must be genuinely effective rather than
creating a false sense of security; two, the level of intrusion
should reflect the level of risk; three, security measures should
be implemented in a nondiscriminatory manner - travelers should
not be subjected to intrusive searches or questioning based on
race, ethnic origin, or religion.
MS. RUDINGER, with regard to applying these three principles,
said the AkCLU supports the use of effective security measures to
enhance airport safety; measures that have minimal risk to
privacy, have maximum security benefits, and reflect the level of
risk. The AkCLU believes that increased safety should not come
at the expense of civil liberties, and therefore suggests the
following measures: increased training for security personnel;
heightened screening of airline and airport security personnel;
strict control of secure areas of the airport; measures to
improve security at foreign airports; a neutral entity to which
passengers can report lax security procedures; and luggage
matching of all passengers. The AkCLU does not oppose sky
marshals. The AkCLU supports maximizing security around cockpit
doors - making the door thicker - in fact she said she thinks
that almost every thing she has heard at this meeting is a
MS. RUDINGER noted that there have been proposals made in
congress, including some made by Senator John Edwards of North
Carolina, regarding "biometric testing" to accurately identify
airport personnel who have access to sensitive areas. The AkCLU
does not oppose using biometric identification techniques with a
proven record of accuracy such as iris scans or fingerprint scans
to identify and authenticate persons working in secured areas of
airports. The error rate for those technologies is very low;
using such technology would increase security without
compromising civil liberties. This represents a good application
of modern technology. Biometric identifiers collected from
airport and airline workers should not, however, be used for
MS. RUDINGER noted that the AkCLU does oppose using this
technology for all airline passengers. One idea voiced earlier
is the concept of a database [for passengers], but this raises
some concerns because in order to be effective, the government
would have to have an iris scan or a digital fingerprint of every
person living in the United States, which would be the high-tech
equivalent of creating a national ID system. Doing so would
raise grave privacy concerns and, furthermore, it would be
unrealistic to expect that high quality images could be easily
obtained and maintained on the tens of millions of Americans that
travel by air. Not every technological solution makes sense and
will enhance safety. For example, many in Congress have proposed
face-recognition technology; this modern technology is
notoriously inaccurate. According to a government study, face-
recognition technology has a 43 percent error rate. She
explained that this means that if this technology is used to scan
her face today, and then 18 months later, she looked into that
camera, there is a 43 percent chance that it would not correctly
identify her. Put another way, if Osama bin Laden were to stare
at the camera in an airport, the technology would have little
more chance (indisc.) of properly identifying him.
MS. RUDINGER mentioned that some people have proposed using video
surveillance to scan crowds at airports and compare those images
with photographic databases. This technology is even less
accurate in those circumstances, and will not only create privacy
problems for law-abiding passengers, but will create a false
sense of security. Terrorists would then be lining up to be
photographed for security databases and they will quickly learn
the techniques for hiding their identity. There is no reason to
jeopardize our (indisc.) measures that create these false senses
of security. Some other security measures that have been
proposed in congress are extremely intrusive and should only be
used when there is good cause to suspect that an individual is
actually a security risk. (Indisc.) entering the scene such as
body searches and body scans are actually in use at some airports
by the [U.S.] Customs Service to search of drugs and other
MS. RUDINGER said that the AkCLU is concerned that these searches
have been conducted without good cause, and based on profiles
that are racially discriminatory. In addition, these machines -
these body scanners - are capable of projecting an image of a
passenger's naked body. The AkCLU opposes using this type of
technology as part of a routine screening procedure. Passengers
expect privacy under their clothing; they should not be required
to display highly personal details of their body without any
indication that a particular passenger poses an actual threat.
In conclusion, Ms. Rudinger said that the AkCLU certainly opposes
the use of any profiles based on race, religion, ethnicity, or
national origin. She added that the AkCLU would be very happy to
work with the committee and other members of the legislature and
the airlines to craft regulations that will protect passengers.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY mentioned that security procedures that adhere
to a "just cause" requirement are currently in use. He then
clarified that the comments he read regarding use of a database
pertained to a voluntary system.
MS. RUDINGER noted that it is hard to discuss some of these ideas
in the abstract, and she said that she looks forward to seeing
the details of any proposals discussed by the legislature. She
clarified that during her testimony regarding the idea of
individualized searches, she was discussing it in the context of
highly intrusive searches, such as body scans. These types of
searches that can reveal breast implants, penile implants, and
other things about a person's body that he/she has an expectation
of privacy about, should only be used on passengers if there is
actually a reason to suspect that passenger. In response to what
would constitute just cause for such an additional step, she
suggested, for example, if the luggage doesn't match, if he/she
doesn't have proper ID, if a metal detector is flagged, or there
seems to be something suspicious. (She noted that the AkCLU has
never challenged the use of metal detectors in airports.) She
suggested determining just cause in the same way the legal system
determines probable cause - a "reasonable" factor is involved.
SENATOR WARD asked what other tools the AkCLU believes are
appropriate alternatives to profiling. He noted that although
profiling is an infringement upon personal rights, it is a tool
that law enforcement/security agencies can use, given that "these
are not normal times."
MS. RUDINGER said she understands the difficulties that law
enforcement and security [agencies] find themselves in sometimes.
The alternative to profiling is "reasonable individualized
suspicion;" she noted that "reasonable" does not mean that the
entities making that decision have to be accurate every time,
just that they must have reasonable grounds for suspicion before
subjecting someone to a highly intrusive search or perform a
significant invasion of a person's privacy. She added that is a
requirement of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Ms. Rudinger said that one of the reasons racial profiling has
become a household word is because people recognize that racial
profiling, in itself, by definition, is stopping people,
searching people, or questioning people based on race (or in this
case, possibly religion). That contradicts the Fourth Amendment.
SENATOR WARD said that he agrees with Ms. Rudinger's comments
pertaining to the Fourth Amendment; he suggested that perhaps the
committee could look at additional ways to ensure that individual
rights are not violated while still instituting viable safety
MS. RUDINGER reiterated that she would be glad to work with the
committee to protect passengers. While it is unconstitutional to
single out a person simply and solely because of race, ethnicity,
or religion, it is, however, permissible to use race in
conjunction with other information, if race is one of a number of
characteristics used to describe a particular suspect. Racial
profiling means only looking at race. But, for example, a
description such as "a white male between the ages of 20 and 30
who is seen brandishing a weapon," would be acceptable. She said
she is not saying this "tongue in cheek," but to the extent that
race is one of a number of reasonable characteristics for someone
who is a suspect - a particular suspect - then it is certainly
appropriate to use race, but to stop everyone based only on race
is unconstitutional. She added that it would not lead to greater
security; she said she would dispute that such activities
actually make the public safer.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY, on the topic of the knives that were used by
the hijackers, pointed out that although some of them were
plastic and thus undetectable, they were as sharp as steel
MS. RUDINGER, to add to Representative Ogan's point that people
are never going to be perfectly safe, noted that one could file a
credit card down until it is razor-sharp.
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN also noted that some people can make deadly
weapons out of completely organic materials. Without a very
intrusive search - a strip search or a body scan - such items are
not going to be found. He said, "the thing we have to really be
careful of ... is not to allow these people to undermine the very
liberties that our men are overseas defending...."
SENATOR TAYLOR thanked Ms. Rudinger for her testimony. He said,
"racial profiling truly violates the constitution ... as it
relates to an unwarranted search or seizure in that the cause or
the reason for the search is an inappropriate reason, but that
inappropriate reason is found ... in the equal protection
provisions of our constitution (both state and federal)." He
asked Ms. Rudinger to comment on the equal protection clause. He
said he is hoping the AkCLU is consistent in its opposition to
any violation of, or any attempt to violate, the equal protection
provisions of our constitutions (both state and federal).
MS. RUDINGER said:
Certainly once there is individualized suspicion that
is reasonable, then the fact that race may be a factor
in what has been targeted, what's being looked for, who
has been identified as a possible suspect, would not
violate the equal protection clause because all people
are being treated equally in that only upon reasonable
individualized suspicion are they being subjected to a
SENATOR TAYLOR, on a topic unrelated to airline/airport safety,
said it is his understanding that the committee would shortly be
receiving a report from a gubernatorial commission whose entire
purpose is dedicated to rewriting the equal protection clause of
the Alaska State Constitution and recommending that it be
modified and changed to provide different rights and different
abilities and responsibilities for people in rural, as opposed to
urban, areas. He said he wanted "to make certain that the AkCLU
will be just as consistent with its defense of our equal
protection clause on that issue."
MS. RUDINGER assured Senator Taylor that although she is not
familiar with the report he is referring to, she would review it
when she receives a copy.
TAPE 01-22, SIDE A
MR. FRANK DILLON, Executive Director, Alaska Trucking
Association, said he wanted to speak on the issue of airline
safety as it relates to the trucking industry. Because Alaska
has an intermodal transportation system, the trucking industry is
being affected by the September 11 tragedy as well as the airline
industry. Access to the Port of Anchorage is restricted right
now and new requirements for entry are being developed. The
Anchorage and Fairbanks airports have a fairly sophisticated
security system in place to insure that trucks on airport
property are supposed to be there and that the drivers are who
they purport to be. However, that system is not foolproof; the
Alaska Truckers Association is looking for guidance from the
airports, USDOT, and the FAA on how to improve it. The screening
process for truck drivers is likely to change and will involve
more extensive background checks.
MR. DILLON cautioned that huge vulnerabilities exist with any
sort of public transportation facility. He stated that the
transportation industry has concentrated on safety in the past,
but that differs from security. The transportation industry has
an excellent safety record but it has never prepared any of its
facilities for the types of attacks that we are looking at now.
Infrastructure costs alone for hardening airport security areas
may run in the tens to hundreds of billions of dollars. In
addition, tens of billions of dollars will be spent per year on
additional maintenance. The trucking industry is ready, willing
and able to do whatever is necessary in a reasonable way to help
ensure that airports are secure but it believes the most
important security measure that can be undertaken by the United
States government is to eliminate the degree of danger posed by
terrorist activities by eliminating the terrorists themselves.
He personally does not believe we can harden our transportation
system enough to prevent a determined, sophisticated and
extremely well-financed attempt to damage our transportation
system. However, we can take steps to make such an attempt more
difficult. A very frightening incident that came to light
recently is that in Chicago, a man who had attended truck driver
training school and qualified for a commercial driver's license
to transport hazardous materials was arrested as his intentions
were suspect. He offered to work with the committee in the future
and answer questions.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY noted that food, freight, and other supplies
that go to the airports are transported by the trucking industry.
MR. DILLON stated that fuel delivery is one of the reasons
security at the Port of Anchorage is being tightened.
MR. MIKE NOLAN, Action Security, offered the following comments.
The basic tenet of the security business is that security and
convenience are on an inverse sliding scale. Regarding previous
comments made about Israel not having terrorists on aircraft, he
pointed out the scale of the problem is very different in the
United States as 30,000 to 40,000 domestic flights fly within the
United States every day.
MR. NOLAN pointed out that security for air travel can be divided
into three zones. The first zone is physical area control, which
pertains to parking areas and facilities. Improvements to
physical area control might include microwave fence detection,
improved visual surveillance through a wide variety of
technology, and access control to allow instant lockdown of all
exterior points. Right now to do an airport lockdown, a security
officer would have to visit every exit. The second zone involves
airport area employee control. Improvements under discussion
include better pre-employment training and an audit trail to
determine whether access cards, biometric identification or video
surveillance is used to recreate the location of all employees
during an incident to make investigations more efficient. The
third zone is passenger control. Identification verification,
baggage matches, pat-downs and body scanners all have advantages
and disadvantages. All three zones have significant economic
impacts and, if applied across the board in an equal fashion, the
results will be unequal in their application in Alaska. Mr.
Noland said in summary, his concern is that Alaska has a very
different threat profile depending on different locations in the
entire state. Obviously Ted Stevens International Airport will
require a different level of commitment regarding convenience and
security than an LAB flight out of Skagway. Right now, there
does not appear to be a good clear-cut procedure in which the
public and local and state representation can work with the FAA
at the federal level to design a threat matrix so that
expenditures can be controlled. We need to define the
legislative process, pursue the appropriate actions that will
protect liberty and the economic entities involved to give
Alaskan and U.S. citizens the peace of mind they deserve.
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said, to his recollection, the reason no
hijackings occur on Israeli planes is that when they did in the
past, the Israelis would not negotiate with the terrorists; they
simply killed them.
MR. NOLAN said he believes during the last incident in the mid
1970s the plane was forced to fly to Uganda but seven terrorists
SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the committee would be hearing from the
Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) or about pipeline security.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said no one had signed up to testify but,
regarding the pipeline, he understands that Prudhoe Bay and
Valdez are under high security.
MR. DILLON said he has been involved in several discussions about
security-related matters of the Port of Anchorage. The ARRC is
working on various plans to heighten its security. The Department
of Defense, the U.S. Army, and Alyeska have been in discussions
about pipeline security. A cooperative program with the trucking
industry that began in 1991 has been reinstituted. Truck drivers
actually patrol a lot of the pipeline route and are on the alert
for suspicious activity.
SENATOR TAYLOR expressed concern that railroad tanker cars travel
to the Ted Stevens International Airport and cargo flights could
be severely impacted if the railroad was vulnerable.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY informed committee members that an alternative
buried pipeline for fuel was discussed as an alternative several
SENATOR WARD asked the Chairman to find out from the Department
of Corrections the procedure for flying Alaskan inmates to
Arizona and whether inmates with armed guards ever travel on
CHAIRMAN COWDERY agreed to get that information.
MR. HORACE BLACK, a 30-year pilot, U.S. Air Force mechanic, and
teacher of Alaska concealed carry courses from Fairbanks, said
the country needs to prevent hijackers from turning commercial
flights into guided missiles. Although many of the suggestions
made by previous speakers are important, he believes it is most
critical to deny any person access from the cabin into the
cockpit now. Almost no metal objects are being carried on to
large aircraft with searches at the levels in use prior to
September 11. Those hijackers did not have to smuggle weapons on
to the aircraft. It is apparent that none of them had extensive
pilot training. It is unlikely that any of the hijackers could
have successfully made the take-off and initial climb up. It is
critical to deny any person access into the cockpit during flight
now. The danger still exists that determined fanatics could take
over the cabin even with some resistance from passengers.
MR. BLACK maintained that aircraft do not need to be
remanufactured or expensive modifications. Relatively minor
beefing up of the door and bulkhead into the cockpit with
positive latches would keep even the most determined hijacker out
if he or she had no tools to work with. No person, including
flight attendants, should be able to enter the cockpit from the
cabin in flight and vice versa. Pilots who wish to be armed
should be allowed to be. The question of protecting passengers
from hijackers is much more complex and expensive. Plain-clothed
armed guards will require seats on the planes and require pay.
The 10,000 air carrier flights per day would suck up a lot of
resources. He urged that cockpits be fixed now.
MR. BLACK also suggested allowing concealed weapon holders,
police officers, and federal and state-armed personnel to carry
weapons on board. He noted that half of the country's citizens
are not flying now due to fear; he cautioned not to exacerbate
the problem by implementing security measures that make flying
SENATOR TAYLOR asked Mr. Black if he has discussed his thoughts
with the FAA or with the airport security personnel at the
MR. BLACK said he has talked to the Alaska congressional
delegation and a number of air carrier people in the area. He
said the only avenue of communication available with the FAA is
to write a letter to someone, somewhere, which he has not done.
DR. PETRA ILLIT, an aviation medical examiner in Anchorage, made
her comments on her own behalf. She noted she has extensive
experience in aviation physiology and medicine and was the former
regional medical director for [indisc.] airlines. She felt Mr.
Black's comments were extraordinary regarding where the buck most
stop. We can spend an enormous amount of resources on screening
and not identify the individuals who will actually commit a
terrorist attack. She agreed with Mr. Black that preventing
access to the cockpit is absolutely critical. Several simple
maneuvers could incapacitate everyone in the passenger area.
Pilots can control access to oxygen from the cockpit. If cockpit
access is eliminated, pilots could depressurize the cabin in an
emergency so that in about two to three minutes, most people
would be unconscious. Unless someone grabs an emergency oxygen
supply from the back of the airplane, no one will be able to take
over the aircraft. Obviously, there would be dangers associated
with that action depending on how long it takes to land but,
overall, that approach would save more lives and the aircraft
could not be turned into a bomb.
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN commented that he has seen pictures of NASA
training exercises in which an aircraft is depressurized and he
would not want to be in one as he would probably be deaf at a
minimum. In addition, while the crew and passengers are
incapacitated, the offenders might be smart enough to hot wire
the oxygen system or access the oxygen stored for medical
DR. ILLIT pointed out the oxygen bottles could be locked up. She
said her point is that we need to rethink the entire security
issue with a completely new set of assumptions. The threats we
now face are entirely different and require different methods of
control procedures in aircraft. She noted in a decompression
scenario, the immediate risk of a decompression injury is related
to the amount of time taken to decompress the cabin. If
decompression takes place over a few minutes, rather than a few
seconds, the likelihood of serious injuries is very small.
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN acknowledged that would be better than being
shot down by an F-16.
MS. CINDY KROON, manager of Always Travel, said in response to
the question about criminal transport, her brother works for a
juvenile probation division so she is familiar with the transport
of criminals. In addition, she has issued many tickets for the
Department of Corrections. In her experience, there is a very
wide range of requirements from the airlines when taking a
prisoner on board. Her brother has been forbidden to carry a gun
on board, he has been forbidden to use handcuffs on the prisoner
on board and, in other instances, he was told he could not
transport a passenger unless he had a gun. She believes criminal
transport is an issue that needs to be addressed with the airline
industry. In addition, she believes airline pilots need the same
authority as a ship captain to make decisions about handling a
dangerous situation on board. If that means allowing pilots to
carry guns or to be trained in martial arts, so be it. Regarding
baggage claims, she believes baggage claim workers need to be
highly trained and paid more.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY noted that housing prisoners at a Kenai facility
will prevent transporting criminals outside.
MR. DEAN RIVERSON, former operator of Anchorage Airways and now a
security advisor, stated the gentleman from Fairbanks was 100
percent on target. He believes it was pathetic that an aircraft
was forced to land because two girls were fighting on board. He
questioned why flight attendants do not have more authority over
problem-passengers. They should have the authority to ask for
help from passengers. A person causing a problem on an aircraft
should automatically have no rights whatsoever. His second
concern is that aircraft personnel are totally unarmed. Strong
consideration should be given to allowing people with the correct
training to take weapons on board. Technology has advanced
tremendously in the last ten years. Laser weapons and flangible
bullets that do not penetrate make it very difficult to misplace
the ordinance. To not take advantage of the thousands of people
who are capable is a waste of our resources. His third suggestion
is to seal the cockpit off and place monitors in the cockpit to
monitor activities in the cabin, perhaps video cameras. Fourth,
he pointed out that rather than depressurizing a cabin, agents
could adjust the oxygen level so that people would fall asleep.
He believes not having armed individuals in the cabin area is a
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said he has received similar suggestions from
many callers, particularly the one about prohibiting the pilot
from leaving the cockpit for any reason. Regarding video camera
surveillance, there are two schools of thought. One is that a
pilot would be inclined to enter the passenger area if the pilot
sees dangerous activity going on.
MR. RIVERSON emphasized the need for new regulations for the
flying public as to the rules onboard an aircraft.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY informed participants that the House Oil and Gas
Committee will be holding a hearing next week on pipeline
security issues. There being no members of the public wishing to
testify at this time, Chairman Cowdery called on Mort Plumb to
MR. MORT PLUMB, director of the Ted Stevens International
Airport, maintained that the hearing has been very helpful and
informative. He asserted that the country is obviously dealing
with a very complex situation but he assured everyone that his
staff is working very hard on it. He introduced the chief of
airport police and head of security at the Ted Stevens
International Airport. The airport has both overt and covert
actions underway. The Anchorage airport will have an armed
officer at each screening point.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY assured participants that he would not allow
anyone testifying to disclose details they do not feel
MR. CLIFF ARGUE, Vice President of Properties and Facilities for
Alaska Airlines and Chair of the Anchorage and Fairbanks Airline
and Airport Affairs Committee, said he echoes Mr. Plumb's remark
that this morning's meeting has been very useful. He stated he
would highlight what the scheduled airlines are doing to minimize
security problems and he asked the committee, the legislature and
the public to support activities taking place in Washington, D.C.
MR. ARGUE said the airlines' chairmen and chief executive
officers spent last week in Washington, D.C. meeting with the
congressional delegation, Secretary of Transportation Mineta, and
White House staff to talk about airport security. In addition to
supporting the Airline Stabilization Act, which recently passed,
a great deal of effort went into briefing national leaders on
many of the issues discussed at the Senate Transportation
Committee meeting this morning. The airlines' chief executive
officers have proposed a program consisting of four items: two
items relate to airports and two relate to aircraft. All four
items are being considered now in legislation before Congress.
Regarding airports, the airline industry strongly supports a
federalized screening function at airports. The entire screening
issue has fundamentally changed from concerns about baggage
screening to additional concerns about passenger screening. As a
result, screeners need to be acutely aware of all potential
characteristics of those passengers that may cause a problem.
Screening programs need to be developed on a national basis with
uniform training. Airline employees and passengers are under
attack and need to be protected. They need to be protected.
Federal agencies, such as the border patrol, exist to protect the
public on a national basis. A federal agency needs to protect
the traveling public on a national basis because airplanes have
been used as weapons.
In addition to the federalization of airport security personnel,
the airlines believe increased law enforcement and/or military
presence is necessary in all airports. Having uniformed people
patrolling airports will serve as a deterrent. That presence is
commonplace in overseas airports.
TAPE 01-22, SIDE B
MR. ARGUE said regarding aircraft, a great deal needs to be done
to strengthen and deny access to cockpits. A task force made up
of Boeing and the airlines is trying to find ways to do that.
Finally, the airlines believe the reintroduction of a full-
fledged sky marshal program is absolutely necessary on every
commercial flight. Providing the necessary training for such a
program will take time but it is critically important to
reintroduce that program. Because this is a national security
problem, the airlines believe these changes should be paid for by
the federal government. The airlines have and will continue to
pay their share, but the greatly increased costs of these
programs need to be paid with federal funds.
MR. ARGUE said the airlines favor better background checks on all
people with access to aircraft operations areas. He noted
Secretary of Transportation Mineta has established two rapid
response teams, made up of three people each. These teams are due
to report to the Secretary by October 1. One group will work on
aircraft security; the other will work on airport security. He
encouraged the Chairman to gather the information provided at the
meeting and give it to Secretary Mineta so that it can be
considered in the eventual legislation considered by Congress.
He informed committee members that two pieces of legislation were
introduced in Congress today. He offered to answer questions.
SENATOR WARD remarked the people who committed the September 11
disaster were not Americans. He asked if protecting the
sovereign borders of the United States from access by illegal
aliens has been part of the discussions Mr. Argue referred to.
MR. ARGUE said he is not familiar with any specific discussions
along that line. He acknowledged Senator Ward's concern about
that issue and suggested passing it along to the Alaska
congressional delegation or the Secretary of Transportation.
SENATOR WARD asked that his concern be a part of the Senate
Transportation Committee's report to Alaska's congressional
delegation. He reiterated that the United States does not have
adequate protection along our borders - not only from illegal
aliens entering but also from those who should not have entered.
He believes that is the crux of the problem and this country owes
it to the victims of the World Trade Towers tragedy to be more
SENATOR ELTON commented that when people speak of federalization
of airport security, most people assume a large portion of the
problem will be borne by the federal government. However, if we
increase the number of law enforcement officers, whether federal,
state or local, we will draw from a very shallow pool. It is his
understanding that three out of 20 applicants may be accepted and
that no training is available yet. Right now, municipalities are
stealing police officers from other communities. He believes
that municipal and community police officers will move to airport
security positions and ferry terminal protection services, which
will have a dramatic impact on state troopers and local police
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said the goal is to get the best trained
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN recounted a personal incident he experienced
regarding a failure of airport security to detect an illegal item
he unknowingly carried onto a plane.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said he has received many phone calls, in
particular from hunters, regarding similar incidents.
SENATOR ELTON asked Mr. Argue if Alaska Airlines is making any
changes during this interim period regarding recruitment of
people for airport screening, for instance by increasing the pay
rate or training.
MR. ARGUE said that well before the September 11 incident the
airlines were working with the FAA to develop a new federal
aviation regulation (FAR), which required several measures to
improve screening. One was certification of the screening
companies. The second was a greatly increased training program
for the individual screeners. Alaska Airlines has started to
move in that direction to heighten awareness among contract
security employees and Alaska Airline employees. Furthermore,
Alaska Airlines has been working very closely with the FAA to
obtain more and better screening equipment for use at the
SENATOR ELTON asked Mr. Plumb if he will have to increase the
number of people he is hiring or reprioritize the law enforcement
assignments at the Ted Stevens International Airport.
MR. PLUMB said that Senator Elton identified the operative issue,
that being manning. If personnel are moved to one area, the area
they are moved from could become more vulnerable. Right now the
airlines and airport are working very hard in a collaborative way
to increase confidence among the traveling public. Obviously,
the airline industry is in a reactive mode right now. It was
lured into complacency because it had not had an incident in the
United States for many years. Many of the things that happened
on September 11 probably would not happen today. However,
heretofore most of the hijackings were not done by people who
were willing to take their own lives. Although airlines are not
accepting responsibility for security oversights, they are trying
to help airports out.
SENATOR TAYLOR said he watched as Alaska Airlines brought in new
and different screening equipment to Wrangell. He is aware of how
much is being spent in Wrangell to hire additional police
officers to stand at the terminal. He said he hasn't heard
anything in the news that indicates that one of these underpaid
people did a bad job. He acknowledged that some insider activity
probably went on so maybe background and screening of airport and
ramp personnel should be heightened but he questioned what
difference it would make if a security person was paid $25 per
hour if the implement used for hijacking purposes was legal and
appropriately screened. He asked why we should go to the expense
of dramatically increasing airport screening equipment when the
equipment was not the problem. He stated,
You can't tell me we're going to save all airlines by
restricting razors so people can't shave and pen knives
less than an inch long because I'm told that it was box
knives and using razor blades and those type of
implements that were used on these airplanes.
Maybe federalizing is great for the industry, because
they're no longer going to have that cost, and a huge
cost is going to be shifted on to the federal
government. Can we all expect a reduction in [the]
cost of air tickets because the airlines are no longer
going to bear that cost? Can we all expect a huge
increase in taxes on airfares because we, the public,
will have to be picking up the cost of the federal
government? I'd like to know the answers to some of
I'd also like to know whether or not the federal
government now, through its intelligence agencies, will
be sharing the information that it has about known
terrorists in this world with those people who are
doing the screening or are we going to end up again
with a bunch of people standing there screening, and
the guy in another office down the hall happens to know
very well that we have known terrorists wandering
around the United States but he doesn't bother to tell
anybody. Some of us, I think, would like to know that
something practical, something common sense, something
that may work is going to happen - not that just a
bunch of bureaucrats are going to keep me from parking
my car 400 feet from the terminal and then doing a body
search on me.
I want to know whether or not this government of ours
is going to coordinate the information, whether or not
they're going to do anything meaningful on cockpit
security, which has been universally testified to
today, and whether or not they're going to do anything
at all, other than make it more inconvenient for thee
and me to get on aircraft. I'd like any one of the
people from the aircraft industry to expound on that a
bit if they could.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY was not sure Senator Taylor's questions could be
answered at this time. He noted the purpose of the meeting is to
try to solve problems and not to point fingers at the airlines.
SENATOR WARD said he believes Senator Taylor brought up a valid
point. He repeated his concern about the number of illegal aliens
in this country. He believes people would prefer a two-hour
delay at an airport while profiling is taking place. The United
States borders are not being protected - a responsibility of the
federal government. He noted that it is a privilege to come into
this country and that the United States must protect our borders.
He pointed out he does not oppose any of the suggestions made
today, but the most important fact is that this disaster was
committed by people who were not Americans and who were not in
this country under the proper conditions.
SENATOR WILKEN announced that he would have to take a leave from
the committee at 11:45 a.m.
MR. ARGUE acknowledged that Senator Taylor raised many important
issues, especially those related to the information flow. The
airline industry favors federalizing the security process so that
information can be shared more easily. He urged the committee's
support of the airlines' proposal. He repeated the most important
thing we can do now is to re-instill confidence in the traveling
public and any or all of the measures discussed today will
hopefully lead to that.
SENATOR TAYLOR thanked Mr. Argue for the response. He agreed it
is very important to rebuild the confidence necessary to get this
industry going as it affects the entire economy of Alaska. He
then thanked Chairman Cowdery and his staff for holding the
hearing and creating a report for Alaska's congressional
delegation and the FAA.
REPRESENTATIVE FATE said Part 135 operators touched on a few
things but that general aviation is the heartbeat of this state,
especially in rural Alaska. The committee has not dwelt on
general aviation much, but he is sure that in light of the
terrorists' possible plan to use crop dusters, the regulations
and security measures will include general aviation. He hopes
the committee's report will give special emphasis to the
differences and the need for general aviation in the state so
that we are not infringed upon to the extent that general
aviation is really changed forever. Some people say that private
aircraft are on their way out. Such stringent regulations would
be the death knell of general aviation, especially in Alaska.
That issue requires special attention in Alaska. He thanked all
MR. DAN ZANTAC, a longtime Alaskan, asked why airlines should
allow any carry-on baggage at all.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said that question has raised a lot of
discussion and everyone knows that carry-on baggage is an abused
privilege. He plans to note that in the committee's report.
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said, in all due respect, when the airlines
quit losing his luggage, he will quit using a carry-on.
MR. JOHN LINELL, a former 20-year employee of an international
airline, informed the committee that employees were always taught
to challenge anyone who was not wearing a valid airport ID with
picture at any international airport. Delivery drivers at the
Anchorage airport are allowed to go onto the runway without any
security clearance whatsoever. They enter on recognition by the
vendors they deliver to. This must stop. Vans are loaded onto
planes without being searched. He noted he saw it happen just
the other day.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY guaranteed Mr. Linell that will be addressed.
MR. LINELL said he frequently travels on American Airlines as a
passenger. He finds, quite often, that Alaska Airlines,
Continental Airlines, and others have no cabin crew at the door
to greet the passengers so no one checks who actually gets on the
MR. PAUL LANDIS, Senior Vice President of ERA Aviation, said he
was heartened to hear the comment by the gentleman from Fairbanks
who said we should not forget the pilots and flight attendants
from United and American Airlines who were on the front line.
ERA Aviation asked him not to make a formal presentation today
because it does not believe discussing its security measures is
prudent. He can say that the FAA has been very proactive since
September 11 in issuing a number of security directives. Some of
the measures taken are visible to the public, some are not. ERA
Aviation meets and goes well beyond the current regulations.
But, like many other regional carriers in the state, ERA Aviation
is not waiting for the regulations to catch up to it, it keeps
moving forward. ERA supports the industry's position, as laid
out by Mr. Argue. ERA is concerned about public safety as it
relates to the airlines. He felt Representative Fate's comment
that it is not too early to think about the impact on general
aviation has merit.
SENATOR ELTON asked for the definition of a law enforcement
officer (LEO) and who licenses them.
CHIEF WILBUR HOOKS, Ted Stevens International Airport Police,
informed the committee that law enforcement officers are
commissioned by the State of Alaska.
SENATOR TAYLOR asked if they can carry a gun.
CHIEF HOOKS said that is correct.
SENATOR TAYLOR asked if that is the only difference between them
and another type of officer.
CHIEF HOOKS said that is correct.
MR. ANTHONY LLOYD, Greatland Foods, said he made a delivery to
the Ted Stevens International Airport last week and was able to
access airside onto the tarmac with just a flash of his ID. He
was able to drive within 10 feet of aircraft. He feels if
passengers need to be screened to board a flight, security should
be the same if not tighter on the airside. He was shocked to see
that even after September 11, no apparent changes had been made.
He suggested that someone should be inspecting trucks at the
SENATOR LEMAN asked what route he takes to get to the airport.
MR. LLOYD described the route.
SENATOR LEMAN noted the airport director was present.
MR. PLUMB said members could be assured that Greatland Foods
would comply with changes.
MR. BOB HAJDUKAVICH, Frontier Flying Service, said in response to
Senator Taylor's question about an increased federal excise tax,
he believes any amount saved by the airlines will be passed on
through an increase in federal taxes because the expense will be
massive. He noted that Alaska has 34 airlines, one of which is
Alaska Airlines. Other Part 121 carriers based in Alaska are
ERA, Frontier, and Penn Air. There are over 25 other scheduled
airlines: 401 certificated air carriers. He cautioned that
whatever comes down the pipe [directive] will distinguish as to
what [aircraft] it applies to. When the latest security
directive was issued, it said that no mail or freight will be
accepted by any Part 108 carrier. Every carrier in Alaska is a
108 carrier. That was later clarified to mean aircraft with more
than 60 seats. As a company that hauls a lot of passengers,
Frontier has zero security requirements but it wants to be first
in line to talk about improving security. A large portion of the
airline stops in Alaska do not even have any facilities on the
runway. He warned that all ideas not be assumed to work for
everyone. He pointed out that regarding cockpit security, the
cockpit of a Navajo aircraft cannot be protected. He stated that
carriers are anxious to help, but they do not believe that
terminal buildings should be required in some remote places.
SENATOR TAYLOR said that the Wrangell airport officials were
informed that Boeing 737 200 Combies (ph) would not be able to
fly freight in the future because of that same directive. He
asked Mr. Hajdukavich if he is aware of any clarification of that
MR. HAJDUKAVICH said it is his understanding that the Combies
were cleared as long as they held less than 60 seats. He said he
cannot speak to the future because a Combie is the same size as
an airplane that carries 158 passengers.
SENATOR TAYLOR said he does not understand the distinction but he
is glad it was made because it would have devastating impacts on
the four communities.
MR. RICHARD WEAVER, a Sky Cap at the Anchorage airport, asked
committee members if there is anyway Sky Caps can remain employed
because they act as the eyes in the airport. He questioned how
handicapped people and others who may have difficulty getting
around in the airport will do so if no Sky Caps are available.
He recommended that Sky Caps act as porters during the interim.
As things stand now, no Sky Caps will be at airports within a few
weeks. He pointed out that Sky Caps usually inform the police of
any suspicious activity they see.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked Mr. Plumb to address Mr. Weaver's
MR. PLUMB stated that the Sky Cap positions are contracted
through the airlines, not the airport. He checked to see if the
airport has the ability, assuming the Sky Cap contract is
cancelled, to get through the procurement issues because the
airport will need to have people available to help passengers who
are disadvantaged. He said he does not have an answer at this
time but it is something he is looking into.
SENATOR TAYLOR noted that Mr. Weaver's concern will affect
thousands of small independent businesses nationwide. He
questioned how a mother with three children or a person in a
wheelchair will get their baggage to the counter. Sky Caps serve
a valuable function. He hoped this concern will be included in
the committee's report.
SENATOR WARD stated that he believes people who work at airports
have kept an eye out at all levels for the unusual. He repeated
that it was the federal government's responsibility to screen the
terrorists before they entered this country. Now we have American
citizens about to lose their jobs because the federal government
did not do its job.
MR. RICHARD HARDING, Vice President of Penn Air, commented that
quite a few years ago he traveled through the Soviet Union when
it was a police state. The experience was not pleasant. Guards
with ski masks and automatic weapons were everywhere. He does not
want to see that happen in the United States. We need to be
careful that we don't make decisions and mistakes in haste. The
terrorists have killed 6,000 people and disrupted our economy, we
cannot let them take away our civil liberties also.
MR. STEVE HAGGAR, representing the Airline Pilots Association,
voiced support for many of the ideas presented today, in
particular modifications to cockpit doors and sky marshals. He
stated that cockpits have a jump seat for an additional crew
member. Those seats are typically used by the FAA or a pilot in
training. They can also be used by crew members traveling home.
Use of that seat is restricted right now. It would be helpful to
have an extra crew member in the cockpit. He asked for assistance
in discussing that possibility with the FAA.
There being no further testimony, CHAIRMAN COWDERY thanked all
participants. He said the committee has received a tremendous
amount of ideas and suggestions. He urged everyone to continue
living their lives as in the past, and to not allow the
terrorists to shut down America. People must continue to travel
and to live their lives just as they did before September 11.
Everyone needs to be patient and understand that it will take
awhile for things to get back to normal. He said, as an aside, in
his lifetime, he can recall the terms of 12 presidents and he has
never been more proud than he is of our current president and his
key staff and how they have handled this crisis. He noted that
copies of this hearing will be forwarded to appropriate officials
and Alaska's congressional delegation. He again thanked all
participants and adjourned the meeting at 12:05 p.m.
ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE
SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
October 16, 2001
Senator John Cowdery, Chair
Senator Jerry Ward, Vice Chair (via teleconference)
Senator Robin Taylor (via teleconference)
Senator Gary Wilken (via teleconference)
Senator Kim Elton
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT
Representative Fred Dyson
Representative Joe Green
Representative Vic Kohring (via teleconference)
KNIK ARM CROSSING
Mr. Bill Sheffield, Director
Port of Anchorage
PO Box 196650
Anchorage, AK 99519
Mr. Bill Bredesen
2909 Arctic Blvd. #103
Anchorage, AK 99503
Mr. Dennis Nottingham
Peratrovich Nottingham & Drage Inc.
1506 W 36th Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99503
Mr. Allen Christopherson
Peratrovich Nottingham & Drage Inc.
1506 W 36th Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99503
Ms. Vicky Hutton Glenser
No address provided
Mr. Devery Prince
505 W Northern Lights Blvd. #219
Anchorage, AK 99503
Mr. Frank Dillon, Executive Vice President
Alaska Trucking Association
Ms. Sarah Palin
Mayor of Wasilla
290 East Herning Ave.
Wasilla, AK 99654
Mr. Frank Dillon
Alaska Truckers Association
Mr. Dick Katno, Executive Director
Associated General Contractors
No address provided
Mr. Jerry Stewart
19561 Upper Skyline Dr.
Eagle River, AK 99577
Mr. Glen Glenser
No address provided
Mr. Cliff Ames
Alaska Center for the Environment
807 G St., #100
Anchorage AK 99501
Ms. Sandra Garley, Planning Director
Matanuska Susitna Borough
350 East Dahlia
Palmer, AK 99645
Mr. Jim Sykes
PO Box 696
Palmer, AK 99645
Mr. Michael Kean
900 W. 5th Ave. #300
Anchorage, AK 99577
Mr. Don Lowell
Alaska Transportation Consultants
PO Box 71114
Fairbanks, AK 99707
Mr. James Armstrong, Manager
Municipality of Anchorage
PO Box 196650
Anchorage, AK 99519
Mr. Marc Van Dongen, Port Director
Port of Mackenzie
Matanuska Susitna Borough
350 East Dahlia
Palmer, AK 99645
Mr. Dan Jacobsen
Mr. Larry Whiting
PO Box 1549
Palmer, AK 99674
Mr. Carl Anderson
TAPE 01-23, SIDE A
CHAIRMAN JOHN COWDERY called the Senate Transportation Committee
meeting to order at 9:58 a.m. Present were Senators Taylor,
Wilken and Cowdery. Chairman Cowdery noted that a Knik Arm
crossing was studied many years ago; that study included tidal
power generation. In an effort to bring the best minds together
for a discussion on a Knik Arm Crossing, he scheduled this
meeting. He informed committee members that Congressman Young has
secured funds for a study and environmental impact statement. The
study will include a simulation model of Cook Inlet built by the
Corps of Engineers on acreage in Mississippi and will incorporate
the development of the port and of Fire Island. He asked former
Governor Bill Sheffield to testify first.
SENATOR WARD joined the committee via teleconference.
MR. BILL SHEFFIELD, director of the Port of Anchorage, said the
Knik Arm Crossing has been talked about for the 49 years he has
been in Alaska. One mayor, Ken Hinchey, had to resign because he
wanted to build a causeway and owned the only concrete company in
CHAIRMAN COWDERY noted the Rothschild study, which reviewed tidal
energy, occurred a little bit before Mayor Hinchey's term.
MR. SHEFFIELD said regarding tidal currents, the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plans to look at upper Cook
Inlet in December and will probably return in the spring to do a
full-fledge current and tide study from below Nikiski up to the
Port of Anchorage. That study will compile badly needed
MR. SHEFFIELD informed the committee that the Port of Anchorage
is looking into building road and rail access behind the port to
provide for a freight facility to load containers on rail cars.
This major intermodal connection to the port will provide access
to a Knik Arm causeway or a bridge at Cairn Point. He felt it is
very important that a crossing include a rail link. Plan site
connections on both sides of Knik Arm to a Knik Arm crossing
should be looked at now and road systems developed to make it
work. Some funds were made available for an Ingra-Gambell
connection to the port and rail yard some time ago but nothing
has happened yet. The Ingra-Gambell, Fifth Avenue, Seward and
Glenn Highway connection must be considered. Mayor Wuertz has
promised to move the truck traffic out of downtown Anchorage. If
funds are appropriated by Congress this year to do an
environmental impact statement for the Knik Arm crossing, all of
that would come together - the crossing, the Ingra-Gambell, the
freeway into a rail yard and port, and a passage around
government hill. He assumes the Department of Transportation and
Public Facilities (DOTPF) will provide leadership on that
MR. SHEFFIELD maintained that Anchorage has run out of room to
grow: in 20 years, Anchorage will run out of residential land.
Acres and acres of developable land would be opened up if a Knik
Arm crossing is built. A crossing would also open up vast
recreational areas, shorten travel time to Fairbanks, provide for
the more efficient movement of freight, and provide for the
development of natural resources, which will create jobs. This
is a unique opportunity for economic development activities on a
regional basis and a way to provide for jobs. DOTPF is doing
some planning on the East Fifth Avenue - Seward Highway now.
When money becomes available, the state must be prepared to act.
The state, Municipality of Anchorage, and Mat-Su Borough will
have to work together to make this project happen.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said he agrees 100 percent and that he believes
that Congressman Young has secured the funding for the
environmental impact statement, as well as other funding for the
necessary Mississippi project. He thanked Mr. Sheffield and
called the next person to testify.
MR. BILL BREDESEN, a commercial real estate broker in Anchorage,
said he considers the Knik Arm crossing to be one of the most
important projects to the future of the greater Anchorage area.
Since a Knik Arm crossing was first suggested by Mr. Hinchey,
almost every square foot of developable land has been eaten up.
He feels the quality of life issue is an important one. The 2020
plan calls for 80,000 more Alaskans [in Anchorage] by the year
2020. The people working on the master plan for the airport are
also concerned about a shortage of land and the Knik Arm crossing
was used in many of their scenarios as a component. For those
reasons alone, he supports a Knik Arm crossing.
MR. LARRY WHITING, a resident of Palmer, said he attended the
meeting to present the possibility of building a tunnel instead
of a bridge across Knik Arm. Tunnels have been designed and built
in Iceland that cross active seismic zones, one at a cost of $75
million five years ago. He encouraged the committee to choose the
least expensive project.
MR. DENNIS NOTTINGHAM, with Peratrovich, Nottingham, and Drage, a
consulting engineering firm, informed committee members that he
worked on this project as a state engineer in the early 1970s.
He advised the committee that projects go from harebrained ideas
to reality with time, therefore the paperwork for this project
needs to continue until the time comes when it is appropriate to
build this crossing. He said he cannot overemphasize the
importance of Chairman Cowdery's earlier statement about the need
for a cohesive study in the upper Cook Inlet area. Other related
development could be going on in upper Cook Inlet, for example
Fire Island and a ferry system. He believes the environmental
impact study will be done at a very opportune time. Whether
anything comes of that study is not as important as the ability
to consider all of the options.
MR. NOTTINGHAM turned to a discussion of the technical aspects of
a Knik Arm crossing. He showed a conceptual drawing of a
crossing at Cairn Point, one of the potential crossings mentioned
by Governor Sheffield. That crossing is about 12,000 feet - it
takes off from the bluffs and provides a relatively high level
clearance. Contrary to what many believe, the ground in that area
is hard and dense underneath and will provide a very good
foundation for a bridge. The Elmendorf Air Force Base side
requires about a one-mile clearance, so the access would have to
be designed to avoid that area. The geometrics will be very
important in the study of this crossing. The Port MacKenzie side
is not quite as critical but the other side has all kinds of
CHAIRMAN COWDERY noted there is talk of future ports and
development and asked whether that would happen on the Seward or
Palmer side of the bridge.
MR. NOTTINGHAM said the present port is down-inlet from Port
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked if boats will have to go under the bridge
to get to the shipping facilities.
MR. NOTTINGHAM said they will not. As one goes up Inlet, it
shoals, so the crossing will have to be designed so that it does
not impact any port development on that side. He suggested that
a girder system will have to be used with 400 to 600 foot spans
and heavy piers placed intermittently. The piers would be used in
deep water, up to 100 feet, similar to those used for the 15 oil
platforms in the inlet. Similar piers are also used for the
North Slope where ice forces are much greater. The dense
foundation underwater would probably support pilings, either
driven or drilled.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked if all piers would be uniform.
MR. NOTTINGHAM said the only thing that would differ would be the
length of the piles.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked if the pilings, or tripods, would be about
10 feet in diameter and filled with concrete.
MR. NOTTINGHAM said the range would be from 8 to 10 feet. He told
members similar designs have been used in the past. A bridge
across the Yukon River carrying the TransAlaska pipeline was
designed in 1971 by the Department of Highways. Its spans are 410
ft. and the ice gets to 5 ft. thick, which is twice as thick as
ice in Cook Inlet. He noted, "These kinds of technical problems
are not difficult."
He noted that the highest towers on the Yukon River crossing are
120 ft. high, not unlike ones that would be on the Knik Arm. Even
after 30 years, the Yukon crossing is the most sophisticated
bridge design ever built. He stated, "An airplane could run into
the side of this bridge, cut it in half and it would not fall
down. It is designed for that event."
MR. NOTTINGHAM showed committee members pictures of the big
steel, tortionally resistant box girders and said, "In other
words, if you chop one of those girders in half, it can't twist
and fall over. The other one is stiff and holds the other girder
up. That's how these work."
He explained the bridge is made out of orthotropic steel. The
pipeline hangs from brackets on the side. It has room on the
other side for the gas line; that was the original design intent
clear back in 1971. He stated, "The Knik Arm crossing wouldn't be
any more different; it wouldn't be any more difficult."
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked if any private companies would benefit
from this crossing and whether they should participate in some of
the costs of these studies.
MR. NOTTINGHAM answered that some might benefit:
Normally, private companies benefit best by being on
some sort of toll use rate or some kind of rate like
that. In other words, they don't have to put a lot of
cash up front, but they can pay for it as they go.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY remarked the Corps of Engineers study says they
have to include everything, Fire Island and the Port development.
MR. NOTTINGHAM said he was talking about the construction, but
the people who would potentially benefit would probably be
willing to participate in the study.
MR. ALLEN CHRISTOPHERSON, Peratrovich, Nottingham and Drage, said
they had talked to some of the shippers who might be interested.
MS. VICKY HUTTON GLENSER commented:
Years ago when that study was put out, the biggest
concern with the shippers was that the bridge was
coming over the shipping lane and the shippers' concern
was the area between the pilings. They only have a
certain amount of space. If they lost control of a ship
or barge, then it would be coming through and it would
be heading directly for these pilings. Has any change
been made as far as the design of spacing the pilings?
MR. NOTTINGHAM replied that designers always create the longest
span possible on these types of bridges. It is also the most
economic way to go. Here they are limited to the type of bridge
they can use; 600 feet would be the span. He explained, "We have
pushed the alignment further up the Inlet, so you're as far away
from the Port as possible."
MR. CHRISTOPHERSON inserted that there has been no design and
that those issues need to be looked at. The piers need to be
improved or strengthened in the event of ice or a ship hitting
them. The alignment, if further up Cook Inlet, would have less
conflict with vessels.
MR. DEVERY PRINCE, Alaskan resident, said he supports this
project for the following reasons.
· Safety - presently, there is only one road in and out of
Anchorage and the congestion is too severe. There have even
been incidents of road rage in Anchorage.
· Commerce - a crossing would lower the transportation costs
of goods sold across the state and open up new areas. It
would also encourage new growth in the economy.
· Lifestyle - the transportation corridor will allow people to
live in a more suburban type of area. Larger lots across the
Inlet were condensed. A crossing would help families get out
of the city to enjoy the outdoors faster, which is
· Inefficiency - it's inefficient to drive 45 miles around
Cook Inlet each way just to access recreation or business.
It's a waste of time and fuel.
· Total transportation corridor bill - it should look at
several things. It should support Alaska for the next 100
years. On the lower level, it should accommodate electrical
transmission lines built for anticipated growth, a natural
gas line, telecommunications fiber cables and the railroad.
He thought the upper level should support six lanes of
traffic. He would be willing to pay a toll to use this
bridge and believes businesses should pay a higher toll.
· Access - the access should push due north and connect with
the Parks Highway near Willow and other areas.
· Build it now - There are three reasons why it should be
built now - not 30 years from now. Right now Alaska has the
strongest congressional delegation it's likely to have for
the next 30 years.
· It's a bargain - DOTPF projects typically cost the state 20
percent of total cost. There are no valid reasons why it
shouldn't be done now.
MR. PRINCE said he thought leadership should step forward and
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said they talked about putting a railroad across
but the load structure would increase dramatically. He thought
the railroad had funds to put a line in from the Palmer-Wasilla
area to Pt. Mackenzie with the vision of creating an industrial
MR. FRANK DILLON, Executive Vice President, Alaska Trucking
Association, said he hopes the study will be broad enough to
consider rail and motor vehicle traffic. He stated, "We really
want to have a comprehensive study in which folks that are
fundamentally against doing anything are going to have trouble
poking holes in."
MR. DICK CATTANACH, Executive Director, Associated General
Contractors, encouraged the committee to continue with the study
with all due haste.
MS. SARAH PALIN, Mayor of Wasilla, said there has been a lot of
discussion on this issue and much of the consensus is that it's
now or never with our congressional delegation in place. She
would do all she could to further the opportunities for the
residents in Wasilla.
MR. JERRY STEWART, Alaska resident, stated support for a Knik Arm
MR. GLEN GLENSER, former director of the Port of Anchorage, said
he talked to Ken Hinchey about this project when it would have
cost a couple of million dollars. When he was an ADC manager, he
brought Baron Van Rothschild to Alaska for a week, who came up
with an elaborate system of three dikes, which made a lot of
sense. Governor Sheffield had John Olson, an engineer, worked out
some provisions for tax breaks to help fund tolls, but it went by
the wayside. He also advocated for a north/south runway at the
airport before an accident actually happened (with Senator
Stevens' wife involved) that precipitated it. He said, "Don't let
the thing diddle on the wayside. Get something done, because it
can be done. We've got bridges all over the place."
MR. GLENSER suggested using the work that's been done: "You don't
have to reinvent the wheel."
MR. CLIFF AMES, Alaska Center for the Environment, asked, "What
do we want to spend our still relatively limited transportation
funding on - both capital funding and maintenance funding?"
He noted that figures from the Anchorage Transportation Coalition
show the capital costs of this project would be about $1-$2
billion, which is as much as the state spends on capital
transportation projects over three years. He said that
maintenance is always a big problem and the toll system would be
a big plus. Without it, they would be spending about 10 percent
of Anchorage's total maintenance budget annually, which means
that other roads wouldn't get maintained.
TAPE 01-23, SIDE B
MR. AMES said the major thing to consider is urban sprawl. It
affects areas where people live, not areas that are sparsely
populated. He said:
We would be losing open space and fish and wildlife
habitat if we encourage development in the Pt.
Mackenzie area instead of doing what our comprehensive
plan suggested, and that is in-building on some of the
underused or unused acreages in Anchorage.
If reducing commuting time for existing commuters is a
major goal of the project, it just really doesn't meet
He presented figures showing that about 10 percent of the
existing commuters would have a quicker commute with the Knik Arm
crossing while 90 percent would still use the Glen Highway.
MR. AMES said that an interesting wrinkle is the Anchorage
Airport Master Plan process that is happening now. He explained:
One of the alternatives is to move the Anchorage
Airport cargo operations over to Pt. Mackenzie, which
may or may not mean they would want to build a Knik Arm
crossing in order to access that supplemental airport.
It's not altogether clear that that is the case, since
a lot of the cargo operations are touch and go and some
of those that aren't touch and go are actually merely
repackaging cargo and putting them from one plane to
another and don't require a trip into the Anchorage
center. So, we are basically raising a number of
questions that we think should be answered before we
decide to build a project and that's what would happen
with the studies that are being proposed at the present
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said he had been an Anchorage resident for a
long time and has seen the wetlands developed and the Anchorage
Bowl run out of room. He envisioned a twin city concept with
everything coming across the bridge - like Minneapolis and St.
Paul. He said they used to build on solid gravel ground, but they
ran out of that. He pointed out:
Now our solid gravel is coming from the valley to fill
in marginal land to build on. I think the one-acre lots
is a sham. I think we'd have a sewer facility over
there that would be tied into ours or their own.
MR. AMES responded that their proposal is not to fill existing
Anchorage wetlands, but to use land that's already been disturbed
and can be built on or used for a more beneficial purpose.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked what land he is talking about.
MR. AMES said it is identified in the comprehensive plan.
MS. SANDRA GARLEY, Planning Director, Mat-Su Borough, reinforced
the concept that if a Knik Arm Crossing is built, it would
provide economic development for the whole region. It has a
broader impact when you look at the need for providing secondary
access for not just the local commuters, but for everyone on the
road system who needs to get to Anchorage from time to time. She
pointed out, "It takes only a minor traffic accident to really
shut down that freight movement and that commuter movement."
MS. GARLEY also emphasized that an Environmental Impact Statement
will provide an opportunity to identify and resolve some of the
questions that have been raised.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said that Congressman Young assured him that
funds are in place for the EIS along with $1-$2 million for
studies that might need to be done. He added that the Knik Arm
crossing would cut one-hour travel time from Fairbanks and
MR. JIM SYKES said he supports going forward with the study, but
he hopes it was comprehensive in nature and tied to realistic
projections for the future. He stated:
I certainly encourage consideration of development of
not just the cargo ports on Fire Island, but to
consider moving the actual Anchorage Airport to Fire
Island, which would make available some pretty good
land for residential and other purposes in Anchorage.
If the Knik Arm bridge is going to be built, I strongly
urge you to include realistic estimates for tapping
tidal energy, which we have almost uniquely available
to us from anywhere in the world. There are estimates
now saying that there will be shortages of Cook Inlet
gas of residential gas and generation as early as 2004
and perhaps as late as 2007. So, I think we really do
seriously need to consider electrical generation with
MR. SYKES also stated support for a rail and gas line as part of
the design. The study should tie gas in with Southcentral Alaska
and Interior Alaska because future forms of energy could use this
corridor. Mr. Sykes commented, "It's a major project. It's not
just a bridge, I would suggest to you and it needs to be very
MR. SYKES cautioned committee members about counting on federal
money, because of September 11 and because the current delegation
may not be there forever. The federal government is a little
stingy when it comes to operating and maintaining projects it has
funded. This leads to a downward spiral if we continue to accept
federal funds for roads that we can't afford to maintain. The
committee needs to consider the existing transportation system
and upgrades to it that might actually be more cost effective,
like a parallel road to the Glen Highway that upgrades the old
MR. SYKES said that even though he heard testimony about an
immediate need, he doesn't believe it is there. Other communities
with bridges that have been mentioned have much larger
populations and greater economies. He asked members, "Please
don't get into the concept that if we build it, they will come."
MR. SYKES said he supports going ahead with the study, but asked
the committee to make sure it is comprehensive.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY responded that many people are attending the
meeting on a workday indicating a lot of interest in this
MR. MICHAEL KEAN, a private citizen, stated support for the
bridge concept and the study to move forward with it.
MR. DON LOWELL, Alaska Transportation Consultants, urged the
committee to move ahead on funding an environmental update on the
Knik Arm crossing because it would be one of the finest
transportation projects of the century. He noted that he
previously served on the Mat-Su Borough Port Commission and
worked with Glen Glenser in the 1990s on a regional port
committee. At that time, they urged the state to move ahead to
support the Knik Arm EIS. He told committee members that three
crossings were considered in the early 1980s: the downtown
crossing, the Elmendorf crossing and the bluff crossing. The
bluff crossing was the shortest and most economical route, but it
was dismissed because it encroached three-tenths of a mile on the
Air Force antenna array that requires a one-mile clear zone. He
said that encroachment needs to be investigated again to see if
some alternative can be found to allow consideration of that
crossing. Also, earlier reports found that a railroad would not
be feasible until 2025, but that analysis needs to be reviewed,
since a railroad serving the Pt. Mackenzie area would
dramatically improve the port export capabilities and Interior
MR. KEAN said that after conferring with some top engineering
specialists, he believes the EIS should cost $5 million, not $20
million that is proposed. He said that much of the previous study
could be updated and new data investigated. He had three
· Add this project to the State Transportation Improvement
Program as a priority project.
· Request the $5 million or more needed to conduct the EIS for
the Knik Arm crossing.
· Authorize the state match for this project.
· Add the project to the AMATS and the Mat-Su Borough's
He offered to help with anything the committee needed.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said he was told that the previous EIS was
completed for a Fire Island causeway, which cost $3.5 million.
MR. JAMES ARMSTRONG, Manager of Transportation Planning,
Municipality of Anchorage, said he is speaking on behalf of Mayor
Wuertz who worked closely with Congressman Young and the
delegation to identify major transportation projects that would
stimulate the economy. He stated:
With the shortage of developable land and a growing
population, the mayor strongly endorses the
construction of the bridge over Knik Arm to the Mat-Su
Borough. This transportation solution would allow
Anchorage to manage its growth while protecting its
existing green belts and open spaces.
A Knik Arm crossing is too expensive to be financed
with regular transportation dollars that come to the
state each year. It will require a special
appropriation. The feasibility study done in 1983 is
obsolete. The Native Hospital blocking access to Seward
and Glen Highways and the location of a military tank
farm at the backside of the corridor are obstacles that
no longer exist. Another impediment identified in 1983
that still exists is the problem with any alternative
for accessing a bridge over military based property.
The Mayor recognizes all of these options are not
viable and, therefore, moot. The removal of the tanks
at the port gives us better options of accessing the
bridge via a road that could be built at the bottom of
the ridge below government hill. Details of how this
would be accomplished are yet to be analyzed, but there
are lots of alternatives.
This project could be a high priority project when
Congress reauthorizes TEA-21 in 2003. The Mayor
believes this project needs to receive special
consideration to be accelerated and not subject to the
routine of a long AMATS review process. This would
require a special appropriation by the legislature to
update the 1983 feasibility study. Once the results of
that study are completed, and provided they verify the
feasibility, the congressional delegation can assist us
in obtaining additional congressional approval.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if the concept of removing the tanks
was a result of a study.
MR. ARMSTRONG said they are revamping the port area. They
already did the removal and have an existing green belt above
where they removed the tanks and were reseeding it.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked if there was any pollution in the area of
MR. ARMSTRONG replied that one tank had leaked that he knows of
and a lot of soil had been removed.
MR. DILLON (Alaska Trucking Association) added that he understood
there was potential for pollution problems from the creeks, which
might pose difficulties in using that area as a park, but not
using it as a road or road foundation.
MR. ARMSTRONG said the Mayor asked for a special appropriation in
the municipalities' request of about $50,000 - $100,000 to update
the 1983 study this year.
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said he grew up in the Puget Sound area,
where bridges were always preceded by ferry service. The ferries
handled the traffic until the volume got to the point where it
made sense to build a causeway or a floating bridge. In the late
'80s, the Anchorage Assembly did a study on the feasibility of a
high-speed ferry. He asked Mr. Armstrong if he had seen it.
MR. ARMSTRONG replied that he had seen a lot of studies, but he
hadn't seen that one.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked Representative Dyson if the high-speed
ferries would be seasonal or year round.
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON replied that the study was for year-round
ferries. The study showed it would take a very capable hovercraft
to be able to get over the grounded ice blocks on the beaches.
They also looked at extending it down to Kenai, but it wasn't
economic at the time.
MR. ARMSTRONG stated that committee members have a memo that
describes the AMATS process; "We're walking the Port of Anchorage
through the LRTP amendment process right now with public review
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked if anyone else wanted to testify. There
was no further response. He announced the committee would
continue with a round table discussion and asked for comments
about seismic problems that might be encountered, as in 1964.
MR. NOTTINGHAM said he has been in Alaska for 40 years and worked
in the bridge section of the Highway Department in Juneau.
During his time there, the bridge codes did not address design in
seismic areas. When the TransAlaska Pipeline came along, its
construction furthered seismic design 25 years ahead of other
states and the rest of the world. Most people still don't
understand how sophisticated the design of the TAPS is, or the
contribution of that project to modern engineering. The Yukon
bridge that he showed earlier was the most sophisticated design
done at that time and it is still state-of-the-art. The forces
that bridge was designed for are slightly smaller than those in
Knik Arm. He explained:
Certainly, the seismic zone is well understood and it's
not an insurmountable problem. As a matter of fact,
it's just a matter of making the bridge strong enough
and of a material that's a littler lighter weight and
suitable for seismic zones. We have good foundations;
there should be no reason it couldn't be done.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if it is is true that boring into
solid rock through the blue clay layer could increase the
amplitude of a shockwave because of loose soil.
MR. NOTTINGHAM said that is right; an earthquake on loose soil
would be much worse than one on bedrock.
MR. DILLON said he doesn't know anything about the engineering of
this project, but he knows a little about the money. The money
comes from the Highway Trust Fund collected from taxes paid by
highway users. It is not the same money used for our nation's
enhanced security. The trust fund money is available and
appropriated in Congress. He noted, "You have to have a pretty
good argument to get Congress to appropriate $1 billion for a
MR. DILLON felt there is wide support for this project for
Alaska. He understands that there is about $1.2 billion for the
Transportation Infrastructure Committee (Congressman Young,
Chair). He said:
I'm sure we could build this Knik Arm crossing and use
another $1.2 billion without any problem at all, but
that's not how the system works. We're very unlikely to
go out and piecemeal together $1.2 billion of
additional projects and get those funded. We are,
however, very likely in my opinion, going to be able to
get the money appropriated to do, whether it's $1.2 or
$1.5, this particular project.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if that fund is a matching fund.
MR. DILLON said he is sure there are matching components and
earmarked components that wouldn't necessarily be matching. He
mentioned that they are also at a cusp point of rewriting
authorization of the highway bill. He explained:
The highway bill was designed in 1956 to encourage the
development of the interstate system for mobilizing in
case of war. That's why we built it. We've gone beyond
that now and there's been more flexibility both in
ISTEA (Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency
Act) and TEA-21 (Transportation Equity Act of the
Twenty-First Century), which are more recent bills to
allow for maintenance projects recognizing that the
infrastructure was built 45 years ago and has lived out
its lifespan. I would expect that we are strongly
urging the congressman and the subcommittee on highways
to allow even more discretion [indisc.] so that you can
do things that are safety upgrades, road repair work or
maintenance that is associated with this type of a
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked how the design addresses a collision
by a ship.
MR. NOTTINGHAM replied that they design all kinds of structures
throughout the state for 900 ft.-1,000 ft. tour ships. The
structures for the bridge would be many times stronger than ones
that resist ships in current port facilities. He stated, "These
could be fendered and handle any kind of ship impact. That would
not be a problem."
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked about the water depth.
MR. NOTTINGHAM replied that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), one of the most valuable federal agencies
as far as data gathering, have ship captains and measurement
methods for our coastal waters and provide telemetry and depth of
water data, which would get updated. Meanwhile, NOAA has produced
charts that show the maximum depth to be about 180 ft. at low
water with 35 ft. tides. This could result in depths on high tide
over 200 ft. But the alignment of the bridge would not cross at
the deepest part of the channel, probably being in 100 ft.-120
ft. of water.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked what the average depth is of the platforms
in Cook Inlet.
MR. NOTTINGHAM replied that he didn't know. [An unidentified
speaker said it was 60 ft.]
MR. GLENSER said they just did a study for the oil companies on
the platforms. They were designed to last 20 years, which is now
up. They were designed to withstand seismic activity and,
consequently, they have experienced very few problems as far as
ice is concerned.
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said from his involvement in several marine
science projects in Cook Inlet, he thinks the strength and impact
from the sea ice would far exceed what they would get from a tour
ship. The platforms in Cook Inlet have survived very well as that
kind of technology is well advanced. He said that Mr. Nottingham
has an immense reputation in this area in our state. He said part
of the study would have to deal with the silt coming from the
rivers into Knik Arm and he assumed that a properly designed
causeway could work for them by diminishing the amount of
dredging that has to be done in port.
He also mentioned that there are a significant number of belugas
that travel up Knik Arm that the Eklutnas have been hunting for a
long time. He assumed the open spans on the causeway would not
negatively impact the beluga migrations, but that it should be
MR. GLENSER responded that Doug Jones had just completed a
computerized tide study, which shows exactly what does happen. A
bridge structure has minimal affect on changing currents or
sediments because very little space is taken up by supports
relative to the Inlet. Other types of structures would have a
significant effect and that would have to be part of the study.
MR. CHRISTOPHERSON added that the piers would have a very minimal
impact on the belugas that would just swim around them. With
regards to sedimentation, there would be minimal impact. He
But when you do something in the Inlet, there is often
a cause and effect and it would be something that we
look at as part of the navigation and flow and drainage
plan for the Upper Cook Inlet. I think that's a very
important document and it needs to go forward.
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said that a clever design might
significantly reduce the sedimentation off the face of the dock,
reduce the MOA's expenses, help sell the project and make the
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said that he wanted to talk about access to the
MR. DILLON said he has been involved in two studies in the Ship
Creek port access area. They are looking for a way to alleviate
traffic conflicts at rail crossings and making Ship Creek more
accessible to pedestrians who might want to use it
recreationally. One idea was that the Ingra-Gambell area would be
extended in a causeway across and a tunnel through government
TAPE 01-24, SIDE A
MR. DILLON said that the plan became too convoluted, expensive
and probably dangerous. He said they just have to look at all the
possibilities and see if they make sense.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said there has been talk about going through
Elmendorf but he was told that would pose security problems,
although the Glen Highway goes through Fort Richardson without a
MR. DILLON said he didn't know enough about the idea of a tunnel
from an engineering standpoint to say whether it is feasible or
not. From a transportation aspect, a problem would be that,
generally speaking, you cannot move hazardous materials through a
tunnel. Most of a railroad's business involves handling hazardous
materials. So a tunnel, unless it was an exclusive rail tunnel,
probably wouldn't work. The trucking industry moves a lot of
hazardous materials to the North Slope. A lot of times it's not
exotic things like plastic explosives; it may be things that are
labeled flammable heading for the Wal-Mart store in Wasilla.
MR. CHRISTOPHERSON added that access on the Mat-Su side, a rail
link or primary road system could have feeder links.
MR. MARK VAN DONGEN, port director of Port Mackenzie, said the
primary spot for the bridge or tunnel to end on the Pt. Mackenzie
side is at the end of the old Pt. Mackenzie Road, which is 1.2
miles up Inlet from where the current dock is at Port Mackenzie.
This is consistent with what Dennis Nottingham said earlier about
ship traffic, therefore, being on the down Inlet side from the
MR. DONGEN said that road is there right now and they are putting
electricity 10.5 miles down the Pt. Mackenzie Road this winter.
They are looking at bringing natural gas down after that and
paving it. The road can also be upgraded and it's fairly wide.
He thought it was the ideal location for the crossing to
terminate. He said that the near-term solution for transportation
into the Mat-Su Valley would be the Pt. Mackenzie Road, which
connects to the Knik Goose Bay Road, which then goes up into
Wasilla. A mid-term solution would be to upgrade the Burma Road,
go past Big Lake, and connect with the Parks Highway. A long-term
solution would be to build an entirely new road from the port
area further towards the Susitna River going up towards Willow.
He said that these are all in the long-range plans of the Borough
for upgrading the roads to interconnect to the crossing.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked if he knew about funding for a railroad
extension to Port Mackenzie.
MR. DONGEN replied:
That spur is approximately 33 miles long. It's a $60
million project. We have some funds right now -
$410,000 to do an update on a prior study on the exact
route that that spur would go and we also have about $1
million available through the Federal Transit
Administration to do the environmental study or
whatever will be required for that spur to go in. But
it will entail about $48 million in federal funding and
another $12 million in state matching funds to actually
construct that spur.
MR. DAN JACOBSEN, Mat-Su Borough resident, said he understood
that rail spur was eight to 10 years away.
REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he wanted to know if it is a good idea
to look at a plan for developing the Port Mackenzie area along
with the crossing or whether it would diffuse the issue.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said that it's obvious they should get the
traffic away from downtown.
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said about two years ago the federal
government commissioned a study called A Critical Infrastructure
Analysis. The events of September 11 have added a significant
priority to that study. He pointed out, "Security of our
infrastructure means having alternative routes. And that
certainly is true here. We're very vulnerable with our fuel and
electric supply. Almost none of those are loops."
MR. DILLON said he talked to Mayor Wuertz about transportation
issues and his specific interest was what has been done to
accommodate security issues in the MOA comprehensive plan. This
was generated by a study done last year that found a potential
problem if a wildfire occurred near the Hillside because of no
access for fire fighting equipment and no egress for the
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said he wanted to discuss what permits would be
required, how much they would cost and what their time frame is.
MR. CHRISTOPHERSON responded that it would depend on the type of
permitting process. An environmental assessment or environmental
impact statement could take two to three years for the normal
agencies - marine, parks and different land development groups,
led by the Corps.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked how much it would cost.
MR. CHRISTOPHERSON replied that would depend on whether it was
done privately or publicly, or with an accelerated process. He
thought it would cost $3 million - $5 million, depending on the
scope. If it was expanded to look at access on either side, that
could take more time.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked what a realistic timeframe would be for
construction of this project, whether work could be done year-
round and what would be needed to conform to this type of
MR. NOTTINGHAM replied that pier construction in Cook Inlet in
the winter might be difficult. A lot of the substructure work
would have to be scheduled for the summer, which could be as long
as eight months. The rest of the work on each side could go year-
round. It would probably take two years to construct, maybe three
at the outside. If the permitting were to occur concurrent with
construction, it could take five to six years.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked what role DOTPF would play and whether
they have the qualified personnel onboard for this type of
project. He asked what percentage of the cost of this project
should go to DOTPF for their oversight or whatever their
involvement would be.
MR. CHRISTOPHERSON replied that DOTPF plays a role in managing
infrastructure projects in the state and it could play that role
here. Private consultants could assist in improving its
capabilities. He explained that DOTPF took a lead role in the
permitting and upfront planning process for the Whittier Tunnel
and that took the top ASC award in the United States. He said a
lot of private firms have prepared for years doing geotechnical
studies, seismic analysis, etc. in bridge design and they are
capable of working with DOTPF.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked if he thought there are Alaskan
contractors capable of working on this type of project.
MR. CHRISTOPHERSON replied that he feels very strongly about
Alaskan contractors since he had worked with them for many years:
I've worked all over the world. There are many Alaskan
contractors that could do many parts of this project,
whether it be working off of barges, putting in driven
pile foundations, whether it be hauling gravel for the
abutments or building railroad tracks. Many contractors
have demonstrated that in projects in the Inlet; they
are demonstrating it in projects on the North Slope. We
don't get a lot of visibility developing these new oil
fields on the North Slope, but there are many
contractors building billion dollar off-shore islands,
building pipelines in the Arctic Ocean, sub-sea
pipelines, building bridges in frigid, very limited
work periods on the North Slope.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY asked how we should plan to alleviate terrorist
activities on this crossing.
MR. NOTTINGHAM replied that these kinds of structures are
relatively enormous compared to the small framing of the towers
that collapsed in New York. The terrorists knew that by hitting
the light steel at the top of the tower and with a little extra
heat, they could collapse the top floors and that would pancake
the rest. "That was the failing of those designs of those towers
- the small little members at the top."
MR. NOTTINGHAM said the bridges are much larger and it's
extremely difficult to damage them. On the Yukon bridge, the
girders are 13.5 ft. deep. He said, "These would be 15 ft. deep
girders of steel and if you design a redundant system, you can
blow one whole span apart and it won't collapse the bridge." He
said terrorism was a consideration in the design of the TAPS.
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said the major security issue is going to be
alleviating the security concerns at Elmendorf Air Force Base. He
felt, "It won't be done locally, dealing with local based
commanders here. You won't get that problem solved. It will have
to be done at a higher level."
MR. CHRISTOPHERSON said there are some important infrastructure
issues that need to be looked at in Alaska, like the TAPS, the
airports and the ports. He thought the crossing would provide
redundancy in both utilities and transportation.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY agreed that our ports are very critical.
MR. DILLON informed them that Governor Sheffield, in fact, left
for a meeting on port readiness today to look at further ways to
tighten security. He said:
Going back to timelines for projects, he said a simple
road project done with federal money now in the
neighborhood of several hundred million dollars,
typically after you're agreed that it's a good project
to do and the preliminary work is done, it's about
seven years before you can drive on it, if everything
goes very well. It's not unusual for that project to
take 12 years.
The process is a problem. Right now Congressman Young
is well aware of this and the rewrite and
reauthorization of the highway bills that are upcoming
- one of his goals is to streamline that process where
it's possible without denigrating the environmental
integrity or the quality of the work that's done, in
other words, not doing shoddy engineering or
considering the environmental issues. But to streamline
the process in the sense that it shouldn't take 12
years from the time you've agreed to do it, the funding
is available to actually start that type of
construction that you guys are envisioning in going to
The tension is not the highway build-up, it is the
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA's
regulations constrain what could be done in highway
building as much as the highway building law itself.
There is work underway in Washington, D.C. to address
those issues and I would like to ask consideration be
given to the Senate Transportation Committee at our
State Legislature to look at that and if they believe
there is a real reason to get involved, to get involved
and try to shorten the timeline on these projects so
that we could go to a construction phase maybe 25 - 30
percent quicker than we do now.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY commented that he and others were disappointed
in the energy bill moving out of Senator Murkowski's committee.
He didn't know if it was completely understood back in Washington
that you can't turn oil on like you turn on a spigot. "You can't
build this bridge without lead time."
MR. LARRY WHITING said that he had a concept from Iceland that
answers all their questions about EIS matters.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY thanked him and asked him to give it to the
MR. CARL ANDERSON said he owned a tugboat in the Port of
Anchorage and thought that the bridge was far enough up the shore
that a ship would probably run aground before it got to it.
CHAIRMAN COWDERY said that he was planning to have another
hearing involving all the ports, the airports, the trucking
industry and shipping. He thanked everyone for participating and
adjourned the meeting at 12:00 p.m.
ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE
SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
November 28, 2001
Senator John Cowdery, Chair
Senator Jerry Ward, Vice Chair
Senator Kim Elton
Senator Robin Taylor
Senator Gary Wilken
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT
Senator Ben Stevens
UPPER COOK INLET & RAILBELT LONG RANGE TRANSPORTATION NEEDS &
REGIONAL PORT AUTHORITY HEARING
US Army Corps of Engineers
CEPOA-PM Box 898
Anchorage, AK 99506
Department of Transportation &
3132 Channel Dr.
Juneau, AK 99801-7898
General Patrick Gamble
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Alaska Railroad Corporation
PO Box 107500
Anchorage, AK 99510-7500
Executive Vice President
Alaska Trucking Association
Anchorage, AK 99501
1635 Sitka #301
Anchorage, AK 99501
Governor Bill Sheffield
Port of Anchorage
P.O. Box 196650
Anchorage, AK 99519
Matanuska-Susitna Borough Manager
350 East Dahlia Ave.
Palmer, AK 99645
Cook Inlet Region, Incorporated
2525 C St.
Director of Measurement Standards and Commercial Vehicle
Department of Transportation &
3132 Channel Dr.
Juneau, AK 99801-7898
City Manager, City of Whittier
P.O. Box 608
Whittier, AK 99693
City Planner, City of Wasilla
290 East Herning Ave.
Wasilla, AK 99654
Captain Bob Pawlowski
Alaska Program Manager, Thales Geo Solutions
911 W. 8 Ave
Anchorage, AK 99501
Chairman, Anchorage Port Commission
P.O. Box 196650
Anchorage, AK 99519
Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Study
Anchorage, AK 99508
Staff to Representative Coghill
119 N. Cushman Suite 211
Fairbanks, AK 99701