News Article - September 28 2006

FAA hopes to clear the air with open houses
  The FAA will hold public open houses next month on its long-range Capacity Enhancement Program (CEP) for the Philadelphia International Airport, but some residents seeking answers on the Airspace Redesign Project and runway 17-35 extension may not find them. The FAA said the purpose of the meetings in Tinicum, Philadelphia, Delaware and New Jersey is to give the public an opportunity to review previously presented project material, review new detailed plans for each on-airport alternative and to speak informally with FAA representatives and their consultant team about the CEP project. No presentation will be given. Each session will include project posters and a brief, continuous video presentation provided by the airport, according to the FAA.

   The new detailed plans of each proposed on-airport alternative will include proposed airfield, terminal and landside changes, and proposed changes to the existing roadway system on and near the airport. The results of the environmental impact analyses, such as noise, air quality, wetlands, etc., are still being studied and are not available at this time, the FAA said. "The runway extension and the capacity enhancement program were proposed by the city of Philadelphia" as the operator of the airport, said FAA spokesman Jim Peters on Monday.

   "They are separate projects unrelated to the airspace redesign so all three require separate environmental impact statements," he said. Dr. Michael Levin, of the Havertown section of Haverford, said there is "widespread opposition in eastern Delaware County that has not been taken into account primarily because the FAA has chosen to divide the program for expanding the airport into three separate units." Levin, who was a consultant with the Coalition of Communities Against Runway 17-35 presently under construction, said the FAA does not give "a full picture of the airport’s expansion plans when the only thing that they do save is a few minutes in flight delay and that’s going to be eaten up by the increased air traffic."

   "My opinion is that the FAA has basically subverted the law by not forming a full picture of the environmental evaluation of the airport expansion," Levin said. He said they have left the county with "severe unresolved economic problems." He added that the county has not done a comprehensive economic study of the impact of airport expansion. "Where do you think the parking is going to go? The parking is going to go into Delaware County," where extensive areas will be turned into parking lots and bring increased traffic and possible crime, Levin said.

   Peters said that the FAA in conducting the metropolitan area airspace redesign project, the runway 17-35 extension and CEP "has followed and will continue to follow the National Environmental Protection Act and all FAA environmental orders." Last week, Delaware County Council released a report by an aviation consultant which indicated the FAA’s reasons for the airspace redesign of flight patterns -- which would increase air traffic over much of the county -- were flawed and the project should be scrapped. County, state, local and federal officials have strongly opposed the flight path plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement which they said would greatly increase noise/air pollution.

Source - Delco Times