Alaska DOT Responds to Island Air Complaint on Changes to Snow Plowing Policy - P.O.W. Report

Monday, October 1, 2018

Alaska DOT Responds to Island Air Complaint on Changes to Snow Plowing Policy

Late last week, POW Report received a letter from Scott Van Valin the Owner and Director of Operations for Island Air Express with a formal complaint that Alaska's changes in policy regarding plowing after 1:30pm and an astronomical non-negotiated fee of $1,000 an hour after 1:30pm makes operating an airport in Alaska's second biggest island not only impossible and also dangerous when emergency flights have to land at short notice.  [Here is the original story]

The State of Alaska DOT and Aurah Landau (the DOT representative for this region) has responded with a statement below:

A lot of great questions were raised by local residents:

Mary E Moffatt Hailey asked: My question is are airports in Ketchikan, Juneau, Wrangell, Petersburg and Sitka also charged 1000 dollars an hour to keep those runways clear?

John Ryan raised a good point: I also understand DOT has changed the Coffman Cove snow plow position to Klawock. So instead of a plow leaving Coffman first thing in the morning with the ferry traffic following right behind it, now the plow will be going against the morning commuters. And those commuters will be in the un-plowed lane of travel. State cut backs need to happen with the budget, but with a little thought and imput from the island effected would save outrage later on. Luckily POW has an outstanding DOT crew who are underappreciated.

Michelle Dahlstrom raises a good question: So a private Co can bid on the plowing and be awarded a FAA funded contract?

Joel Steenstra writes: Took half our PFDs and they still can’t plow our airport.

Grandpa Jim simply put:

The questions that POW Report has: 

1. Why can't Island Air contract out for private plow service? If it's a liability issue, what would it take to get covered? 

2. Rumor is that there is a multi-million dollar snowblower plow that has been sitting in Klawock for years and nobody has used it, why not? And why couldn't a private contractor get liability insurance and use it? That is, if this rumor is true. 

3. What would it take to change this new $1,000 an hour policy? This doesn't sound like a legislative decree and rather an internal bureaucratic decision. 

4. What are the internal financial statistics on DOT costs on POW in the last five years? Meaning is this really due to budget cuts or are there other issues that aren't discussed?

5. As mentioned earlier, other smaller airports such as in Wrangell, Sitka, Haines and Petersburg do they have to pay $1,000 an hour after 1:30pm? If not, why not? If not, what can POW do to bring themselves up to the same level of standards as the outlying communities in SE?

6. What is the logic behind the $1,000 an hour plow rate after hours? Is that the current private rate or is that something that the state DOT simply made up? 

7. Finally, is there anyway to negotiate the plowing hours and costs between the ADOT and Island Air? If so, what are the steps? 

This is still a developing story. 

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