Airport Board Approves Runway Plans
December 20, 2012
The Monterey Peninsula Airport district board might just be spinning its wheels, if the plaintiffs in a lawsuit over its runway expansion plans prevail in court.
The board voted 4-1 on Wednesday to adopt a revised environmental impact statement on its proposal, which includes cushiony extensions on either edge of the runway to catch planes that might zoom off the edges at takeoff or landing.
That's to comply with Federal Aviation Administration rules, but the dissenting board member, Dick Searle, thinks there would be viable alternatives to making the runway FAA-complaint.
"In the history of the airport, an airplane has never run off either end of the runway," he says. "New planes have automatic brakes. It’s just one of those things that a consultant got in there and convinced our staff that this was the way to do it."
The revised environmental analysis comes after Monterey County Superior Court Judge Lydia Villarreal agreed with part of a lawsuit filed by the Highway 68 Coalition arguing the original analysis was inadequate. The coalition plans to object to the updated plans in court, as well.
Airport board chair Mary Ann Leffel says the updated environmental analysis complies with the court order. "I believe that [the issues] have each been carefully researched and answered," she writes by email "The airport's runway safety project is of utmost importance to our passengers, our pilots and to our tenants."
The airport cancelled a construction contract as workers were poised to break ground earlier this year, under court orders. If the court signs off on the updated plans, they'll put the work out to bid again, behind schedule.
"At this point in time, the magnitude of the financial ramifications of the delay are unknown," airport Deputy General Manager Mark Baustista says by email. They still expect to meet the FAA's Dec. 31, 2015 deadline.