What others say: The little cog

  • Tuesday, April 21, 2015 5:07pm
  • Opinion

A piece of equipment at the Klawock Airport serves as a small reminder of an important function of government.

A National Weather Service meter at the Klawock Airport measures visibility, determining when flights can operate under visual flight rules or must operate with instrument flight rules.

The meter has malfunctioned at various times this month. The situation has prompted concerns from the two air carriers that provide service to the Klawock Airport. When the equipment malfunctions, the air carriers’ IFR-equipped aircraft must operate under VFR rules, limiting their service to periods of clear weather.

Given Southeast Alaska weather, that’s a significant limitation, especially for an airport that sees about 200 medevac flights per year.

The National Weather Service, to its credit, has sent technicians to the site after each malfunction of the meter, which has been operational 99.6 percent of the time since 1998.

The other 0.4 percent of the time is when the meter is noticed. If it doesn’t work, perhaps flights can’t operate. Lives are affected.

It’s that way with most infrastructure. Roads, power, water, sewer, you name it, if a piece of infrastructure is in good operational condition, it helps facilitate everyday life and commerce.

The building and maintenance of most infrastructure in these United States is a function of government. It’s important to choose infrastructure projects wisely, build them economically, and commit to their proper maintenance once in place.

This isn’t a theme often heard in political campaigns. Infrastructure, if mentioned at all by the political class, is cast largely in terms of megaprojects such as gas pipelines.

But it’s the smaller things, even a meter at a rural airport, that are important to most folks’ daily lives. We appreciate when governments focus on this basic function, ensuring that our infrastructure continues to work for us all.

— Ketchikan Daily News,

April 17

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