Ketchikan International Airport on Gravina Island. (KRBD file photo)

The Gravina Access Project got a federal thumbs-up this month when the Federal Highway Administration signed off on the Record of Decision for the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

In other words, a formal study and a plan were approved and now the State of Alaska can move forward with design and construction.

The alternative that was chosen — in cooperation with local officials — includes reconstruction of existing ferry berths; improvements to both airport ferry terminals; a new heavy freight mooring facility and a new ferry layup dock on the Gravina side; shuttle vans; replacement of the Airport Creek Bridge; and reconstruction of parts of Seley Road, which links to Gravina Highway.

The estimated cost of the project is now at $45 million. That will come from federal transportation funding that had been allocated many years ago to Ketchikan for a bridge to Gravina. The bridge was vetoed by then-Gov. Sarah Palin, and most of the funding was directed toward transportation projects elsewhere in the state.

There’s about $96 million left from that original bridge money. According to an announcement from the Alaska Department of Transportation, any funds from that account left after the Gravina Access Project is complete will go toward other projects in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.