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News Article - December 13, 2008

AIRPORT EXPANSION TALKS BEGIN  
By Alex Rose arose@delcotimes.com

  Talks between the county, Tinicum Township officials and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter began last week in an attempt to come to some agreement over a proposed Capacity Enhancement Plan (CEP) at Philadelphia International Airport. “All we really did was put all our concerns on the table for him,” said Tinicum Manager David Schreiber Wednesday. There are two alternatives for the CEP — one of which would add a new runway — with a projected cost between $5.2 billion and $5.4 billion, according to a draft environmental statement from the Federal Aviation Administration. In its present form, the plan would displace at least 72 residences and 3,300 jobs from Tinicum, including the relocation of a UPS facility.

   Per-operation delays following plan implementation are projected to drop to between 5.2 and 4.7 minutes by 2020, down from the current 19.3 minutes, according to the statement. “We talked about a lot of the issues, we talked about some possible solutions, however nothing was agreed to,” said County Council Vice Chairman Jack Whelan Wednesday. “But what was agreed to was that the door was left open and we would meet again.”

   While Whelan said Tinicum is opposed to bringing planes close over residents’ homes, it is not against airport expansion outright, so there is some wiggle room for negotiation. “We were totally against any airplane operations from the airport (being) any closer than what they are now,” said Schreiber. “For them to buy property and use it for airplane operations would be the beginning of the end of this town.” If the city was to present a plan that brought in jobs and kept planes at their current flight levels, though, Schreiber said that would be alright.

   The county and U.S. Rep. Joseph Sestak, D-7, of Edgmont, have already condemned the current plan in the Federal Aviation Administration’s record of public comment. FAA spokesman Jim Peters said the authority would take all comments that were entered into the record and address them in another statement, which should be ready in late 2009. Whelan said the county is trying to avoid another major lawsuit like the two it is already involved in over an airspace redesign plan the FAA partially instituted at PHL last December, and open up negotiations so Tinicum can continue to address some of the problems it is having with the city. But he said Nutter seemed gracious and cordial during opening talks, so Whelan is hopeful that discourse will be able to continue. “We will continue to get together and discuss each parties concerns,” said Schreiber.

Source - Daily Times



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