News Article - October 01 2006

PHL's runway expansion worries NCCo neighborhoods
  Nearly every time a jet roars overhead, the cultural uniqueness that landed The Ardens on the National Register of Historic Places takes a nose-dive, residents say. During community plays at the four outdoor theaters, actors pause while planes fly over. Conversations on the many nature trails halt. “It impacts our way of life, our culture, and our ideals,” said Amy Pollock of Ardencroft, who said her house’s windows shake because planes fly so low. “It’s a very real interference.”

   For years residents in northern New Castle County have complained about the roar of jets. Now they say it will be worse if the Federal Aviation Administration moves forward with plans to lengthen and possibly add runways at Philadelphia International Airport to handle a surge in air traffic. The ninth busiest airport in the world with one of the country’s worst rankings for on-time departures and arrivals, Philadelphia International is searching for ways to reduce congestion. But the proposals worry residents of northern Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, who believe a busier airport will add to what they say is already an unacceptable noise problem. Philadelphia is not alone in its quest to increase capacity. Airports throughout the Northeast are battling increased traffic and flight delays. Beyond construction at individual airports, the FAA currently is redesigning the airspace for the entire region, looking at ways to ease traffic problems.

   Long-term proposals to handle growth at the Philadelphia airport will get a public airing later this month. In the meantime, crews are preparing to reroute Pennsylvania Route 291 to make way for a 1,040-foot extension of one of the airport’s four runways. The FAA approved the $60 million runway expansion in April 2005, and construction is expected to begin today, said Philadelphia airport spokesman Mark Pesce. The project should be completed at the end of 2007. The extended runway will be able to accommodate larger, noisier regional jets -- expected to account for 67 percent of aircraft operations by 2010.

   Some northern New Castle residents are distressed at the thought of more, even larger planes flying at low altitude directly over their heads. “When they come in below the clouds, at 1,800 feet, you can see the windows on the planes,” said Stephen Donato, who lives in Brandywine Hundred and maintains the anti-airport noise Web site for the PHL Citizens Aviation Watch group, Last year, the Philadelphia airport saw 535,666 planes take off or land.

   Pesce said the runway extension would reduce airline delays by about 12,000 hours per year. According to the FAA, flights at Philadelphia in July were on time only 64 percent of the time, compared with a 74 percent on-time average for all major U.S. airports. In 2005, 25 percent of flights were delayed, arriving an average of 59 minutes behind schedule, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Runway hearing A Wilmington area public meeting about proposals to improve the airport’s capacity is set for 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, in the Hanby Middle School cafeteria at 2523 Berwyn Road. For more information, go to

   One of the alternatives to be presented at the meeting is a “no-build” scenario. Two alternatives would extend two of the existing four runways, and build a new 9,103-foot runway along the river. Another option would lengthen all three current east-west runways, and construct a fourth 8,483-foot runway. In two of the options, the north-south runway currently being extended could be converted to a taxiway or done away with all together. Some scenarios also call for the terminals and UPS and air traffic control facilities to be relocated

Source - Delaware Online