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lindy field
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Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Tue Apr 16, 2002 1:04 am

Forum Member 2912n directed me to this article in another thread. I thought it was worthy of reproduction in a thread of its own. From the Apr. 14th edition of the San Diego Union Tribune:

Lindbergh future up in air
2nd runway, new site among options

By Ronald W. Powell
April 14, 2002

Speculation that the Marine Corps Recruit Depot might become available for the expansion of Lindbergh Field has led some to believe that the answer to the region's air transportation needs is at hand:

Buy the 388 acres at the Marine base. Build a second 9,400-foot runway through the property. Add new parking and terminals.

But it's not that easy.

First, it is far from certain that the Marines are pulling out; the cost of moving their operations is estimated at $500 million. Even if they do move, the cost of a second runway and other improvements could be overwhelmingly high – especially since many say expansion would only temporarily meet the region's projected passenger and cargo demand.

Still, the idea is not being ruled out.

A $1.9 million study, the Air Transportation Action Plan or ATAP, is under way. It will provide the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority with a range of options to choose from to solve the region's air transportation riddle.

The Airport Authority will select from the menu of options and place its decision before county voters as early as November 2004.

"The second runway is an option that we need to look at from the perspective of what happens with the ATAP," said Thella Bowens, the Port District's senior director of aviation, who doubles as executive director of the Airport Authority.

"Having the airport remain where it is is part of the ATAP. And (a second runway) is one of the options that will be evaluated," Bowens said.

Pressing need
At 526 acres, Lindbergh is the smallest major airport in the country. Last year, its single runway handled 208,000 takeoffs and landings. But sometime between 2010 and 2012, the demand for takeoffs and landings is expected to exceed 282,000 annually, the maximum the single runway can handle.
"In 10 to 12 years, the single runway will exhaust its capacity," said Ted Sexton, the Port District's director of airport operations. "We need to start moving."

The San Diego Unified Port District administers the airport, which is on state-owned tidelands. But the Airport Authority, which was created in January, is scheduled to take over airport operations in December.

A second runway would increase takeoffs and landings by 53,000 to 55,000. It also would allow large jets such as 747s to take off over the Midway District with a full complement of cargo, fuel and passengers.

Currently, such aircraft cannot take off fully loaded because of the need to clear the steep terrain of Point Loma to the west.

There are no hard figures on the cost of a second runway. In 1999, airport planners pegged it at $1.2 billion, but that did not include all property acquisition expenses.

Even if the Marines would move and a decision to build a second runway were made today, it would be years before the first earth mover could rumble.

Someone would have to figure out how to pay for the project. Lengthy environmental studies would have to be conducted and permits obtained. Lawsuits almost certainly would be filed. Homes and businesses in the Midway and Loma Portal communities would have to be bought and their owners and renters relocated.

By the time all of that was done, the cost might be as high as the $2.4 billion spent on the more than five-year-long overhaul of San Francisco International Airport, airport planners say. That effort, completed in December 2000, added a 27-gate international terminal, two parking garages, an internal transit system and a realignment of the roads around the facility.

But it should cost less than the $4.9 billion spent to build Denver International Airport, a 53-square-mile facility that covers more land than there is in the city limits of San Francisco or Miami.

Denver's airport, built on vacant land outside the city, was finished in 1995 after more than five years of construction. It has five runways, with a sixth under construction.

Problems would remain
John Russell, a commercial airline pilot and a spokesman for the Airline Pilots Association, said a second runway at Lindbergh would expand passenger and cargo capacity. But, he said, the costs must be analyzed against those of building a new, larger airport elsewhere in the region.
Russell said Lindbergh has "one of the steepest approaches in the country." Elevated terrain and a parking garage on Laurel Street east of the airport complicate landings and lead to "go arounds" or second landing approaches.

Russell, who said he has flown in and out of Lindbergh about 30 times, said a second runway will not solve that problem.

Tom Kamman, who managed Lindbergh Field's control tower from 1992 to 1997, said a second runway would be an expensive stopgap measure.

"Capacity at Lindbergh – with or without MCRD – is constrained because land is limited," said Kamman, now an aviation consultant. "Eventually, they will run out of capacity, but I don't know how far down the line that is."

Kamman said a discussion about a second runway must involve the nature of the airport the San Diego region wants. He said Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has three runways and is the fifth busiest airport in the country, with 2,500 takeoffs and landings daily.

In contrast, Lindbergh has almost 600 takeoffs and landings a day.

"Do you want a Los Angeles International type of airport in San Diego County or don't you?" Kamman asked. "If you don't, then you do the best you can at Lindbergh."

In that event, he said, San Diego's airport would remain what it is – a feeder airport to such hubs as San Francisco, Denver and Phoenix.

The long-range answer, Kamman said, is Miramar Marine Corps Air Station because of its location, flat topography and roominess. But he concedes there is no move afoot for the Marines to depart, and no sign that the military would embrace joint use of the facility.

A second Lindbergh runway, angled in a V shape with the existing one, would be used primarily for departures. There could not be simultaneous takeoffs or landings on the air strips, however. Even with the MCRD property there would not be enough land to sufficiently separate them.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires 4,300 feet between runways to permit simultaneous operations. According to conceptual drawings in the Port District's master plan, there would be 600 feet between the existing runway and a second one at their nearest point and 1,400 feet at their greatest point of separation.

Jack Bewley, a retired pilot who says he has more than 20 years of experience each in military and commercial aviation, said a second runway would be a marked improvement.

A runway angled through the Marine base, with planes taking off over the Midway District, would allow jetliners to take off into the prevailing wind, giving them greater lift over nearby residential areas.

"It would definitely reduce noise impacts on people," said Bewley, who estimates that he flew in and out of Lindbergh 2,000 times with the former PSA and USAir. "The airport needs two runways."

Other options
Bewley said he and other pilots have frequently talked about how to solve the region's airport problem. Their solution? North Island.
Passengers would buy airline tickets across the bay in San Diego, then travel by water taxi, ferry or through an underwater tunnel to the new airport.

"Anything you do at Lindbergh is short-term," Bewley said.

The second runway at Lindbergh, the North Island scenario and several other airport concepts are mentioned in the Port District's master plan.

The port ranked the concepts, with the second runway scenario through MCRD coming out on top. It was followed by a concept calling for a 7,500-foot runway for arrivals that would be built south of the existing runway. Acquiring the Marine property would not be necessary for that option.

Ranking third was a plan to build a 9,000-foot runway parallel to the existing one. It would require a swath of the Marines' land, but not the entire base.

The North Island concept finished last among the nine ideas.

And the neighbors?
Residents of the communities near Lindbergh are largely opposed to a second runway.
Seth Leyton of the Peninsula Community Planning Board said he believes expanding Lindbergh amounts to poor planning. He said that if the Marines give up the base, the land could help complete a pedestrian link around the north side of San Diego Bay.

"We need to move the airport. End of subject," Leyton said.

Point Loma resident Cynthia Conger noted that military housing as well as other homes and businesses would have to be moved.

"I don't see how we can go through an established community," said Conger, a member of the Government Affairs Committee of the San Diego Association of Realtors. "We should not expand the airport. We can build a new airport in seven to 10 years."

The cost of a second runway would be too high for what would result, said Wayne Raffesberger, a lawyer and past president of the Point Loma Association. He added that creation of a protection zone, a clear area for emergencies beyond the end of a runway, would have to be tacked onto all the other expense of the project.

"The runway protection zone would fall right over the top of my house and hundreds of others," Raffesberger said. "The costs would be horrific."

While a second runway is just a concept, the Port District is moving ahead with plans to add either a 10-gate terminal at the northeast edge of Lindbergh Field or nine gates on the west side of Terminal 2, which was completed in 1998. Building a new terminal would cost $150 million, while adding the gates would cost $65 million.

While I'm still inclined to think that the construction of a new airport at Miramar is the best solution for San Diego, I remain unconvinced that it will ever happen. The Nimbys around Miramar are sure to fight as doggedly as the Nimbys around Lindbergh Field. The North Island idea sounds quite impractical.

What I don't understand is the lack of attention given into this article to the "second highest rated" concept of building a second runway directly to the south of the existing runway, which would not require acquisition of the MCRD land. What are the drawbacks of this idea?

Second question: Why build a north terminal if opportunities exist to expand the existing West Terminal at a much lower cost? Adding to the existing facilities would be much less of a hassle and would not require such a great amount of traffic redirection. And, if the airport is eventually relocated, the construction of a North Terminal will be pointless anyway.

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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Tue Apr 16, 2002 2:04 am

Boy, Lindy, I don't know. San Diego has one of the toughest airport situations in the country. I agree with you that Miramar is the best option. Of the options mentioned only Miramar offers a large-scale, long-term increase in capacity.

But the new airport authority would need to get cracking on the *political* aspects of moving to Miramar. Get major local businesses and politicians behind Miramar. Start building a coalition that would be willing to make a massive public-relations campaign, and contribute funds to the immense legal war chest that would no doubt be needed. The political battle is the biggest obstacle, bigger than environmental assessments, which drag on forever but can eventually be finished.

I remember you saying in the past that Miramar would be near the traffic--that the wealthier suburbs and a lot of businesses are to the north of the city. Chicago of course is the best example of what happens when an airport is near the higher-income clientele that uses it--they turn psycho-NIMBY and hamstring its development.

All the more important then to get business and political folks ready for the battle. San Diego's aviation future may ride on it.

Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Tue Apr 16, 2002 3:19 am

I really doubt that San Diego will move the airport anywhere in the next 25 years. The Marines will not move out of Miramar. They spent far too much money moving them down and consolidating the air wing there for them to easily give up.

The City of San Diego does not have the fiscal ability to do anything with an airport, never mind the infrastructure improvments that would have to be done in the Miramar area to make it a viable airport.

I think that San Diego will always remain a destination airport and will not really need the ability to launch large a/c like the 747. Witness the inability of BA to fill their 777 flight on a regualr basis.

Brown Field was once a viable option for a large airport, but since the City has allowed housing development directly in the flight path it is now even in jeopardy as a general aviation field. (Witness the recent defeat of of a cargo port complex there. Could have been done 10 years ago when the mesa where it sits was empty. BUt the City is not known for smart planning.)

I think that we would be better off improving Lindbergh. The easst terminal needs to be overhauled totally. New lounges and waiting areas that can accomodate the crowds, especially with the security measures which will probably always be in place. The baggage system needs to be updated/automated.

Building a new terminal on the north side of the field would be nice. Improve the traffic flow in and out, new parking and perhaps a rail link to the other terminals to ease passenger flow.

Just my disjointed thoughts. Not enough coffee.  Smile
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Tue Apr 16, 2002 4:57 am

I agree with both points that Miramar is the best spot, but the Marines just moved in from El Toro to be closer to Camp Pendleton and the Naval Station. There's no room for them at North Island and it doesn't make sense to move them further away from the Naval Station to someplace like Twenty Nine Palms or even Yuma AZ.

Unless you move the Marines to Lindbergh and the commercial operations to Miramar, that makes alot of sense. Put the Marine Air Wings right next to Camp Pendleton, North Island and the Naval Station. Save the recruit depot, and give the Coast Guard some more space (are they still across the highway?).

However you have to get Congress to put up more money to move the Marines (again) and to build a new commerical airport at Miramar and a new military field at Lindbergh.
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Tue Apr 16, 2002 6:10 am

Miramar is the only real solution... Among the other mentioned reasons for why it's unlikely, I'd also like to add what a pain it would cause for Montgomery and Gillespie Field. You already have Class B restrictions around Miramar now, and I bet they'd be drastically increased with commercial traffic. Also, Miramar gets a lot of incursions from out-of-towners mistaking the base for Montgomery Field.

My prediction is more inaction, resulting in less frequency - higher capacity planes into SAN, and probably higher ticket prices.  Sad

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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Tue Apr 16, 2002 6:31 am

Whatever happened to the plan to put the airport on the US/MEX border? Is that too far out of town? What part of the SAN area do most of the travelers come from? Is there a lot of biz travellers and where do they go?
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Tue Apr 16, 2002 7:33 am

The US Marines not withstanding, I see Miramar as a remote chance with the amount of high dollar housing surrounding the base. The departure end of Miramar goes right over La Jolla, CA. 92037 is one of the most expensive places to live in California. The arrival corridor goes over Scripps Ranch, and most people who live there are not hurting for money either. Money talks, and politicians listen. The pressure applied by these folks living in their multi-million dollar homes would be enormous if there were ever serious talk of making NKZ a public airport. Just as John Wayne has been limited by the wealthy in Newport Port Beach, the same will happen in San Diego. I myself live at the departure end where Miramar meets La Jolla in the quiet UCSD area, and I do not want it in my neighborhood either!
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Tue Apr 16, 2002 9:17 am

The"twin ports" idea was floated a few years ago. This would have had us sharing the Tijuana Airport with Mexico. There were too many issues to work out for it to be practical. The other idea was Brown Field which would have been very nice, but...poor planning has allowed housing to be built to within a mile of the end of the runway. It is a dead issue.

I sorta like the idea of moving the Marines to Lindbergh...Won't happen.

Something to think about is that people LIKE Lindbergh. It brings you right into the city, no long commutes to some bumfrick place like Denver. SHort cab ride to downtown and most tourist places. Business people like it for the convience.

We would probably be better off fixing it up and letting the true long haul stuff continue to go through LAX or SFO.
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lindy field
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Tue Apr 16, 2002 10:29 am

Hmmm. I still wonder if San Diego would have trans-Pacific flights if it had better airport facilities. As I mentioned in my original post, I doubt the Miramar idea would get off the ground because of NIMBYs and the Marines' desire to stay. Av8trxx--I grew up in La Jolla by the Shores. Never had a problem with noise from Miramar. The planes always flew a few miles to the north over Torrey Pines State Park. Are you suggesting that a civil aircraft would depart on a flightpath to the south of the one used now (and back in the day)?

What about the North Terminal at Lindbergh? It still seems like a dumb idea to me if the West Terminal could be expanded for less money. Speaking of the north terminal--Have you seen the plans for redirecting the exit ramps for I-5? Looks like it would create loads of traffic... and the proposed intermodal transit center sounds like a prestige project. Not sure there's too much value there. I do agree that the old East Terminal badly needs a renovation/replacement. Flying Southwest from SAN during "rush hour" can be a real drag.
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Tue Apr 16, 2002 12:24 pm

"Never had a problem with noise from Miramar".

Maybe it's not, but sporadic military traffic isn't the same as having over 400 airliner flights a day depart over your house! I just had the old windows in my home replaced with double pained vinyl because the noise from the base (the USMC chopper especially) would rattle them so.....
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Tue Apr 16, 2002 4:46 pm

I really doubt SAN would attract direct trans-pac flights. I don't think we would have the traffic to make it profitable, major airport or not.

Just like the rail road ran to LA instead of San Diego, the airplanes go to LA and we just have to trek up there.

Do you think that an airline would expand their maintenance operations etc to San Diego (or relocate)? I think it would be prohibitavly (hard to spell at 0045)...expensive. I think that chasing the big market is the wrong way to go. Go after the small trade and let the heavy stuff continue to fly into LAX.


RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Tue Apr 16, 2002 11:32 pm

It looks like the only realistic option is to stick with lindbergh. But look on the bright side... It still gets a decent amount of traffic, fares aren't bad, and it's a stones throw from downtown. You're even lucky enough to have WN in town. Here in DEN it's still a 6.5 hour drive to the nearest WN town.

Here's a question: How much more traffic is SAN expected to get with a new airport? It's in a horrible location as a domestic hub and will never be as big as PHX, DEN, SFO for that reason. With a longer runway SAN might get some int'l flights. Would a new airport really be worth it?
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Wed Apr 17, 2002 1:40 am

An interesting possibility that I have heard mentioned is to develop an agreement with the Mexican Authorities and expand Tijuana Airport. There are some social inequity issues to deal with as it would of course shift all the undesirable impacts across the border for the benefit of San Diegans.

The problems with LAX getting approval for expansion has got a lot of people rethinking how the smaller airports in this region should be used.
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Wed Apr 17, 2002 1:43 am

I'm for Miramar too, it has got a freeway on either side, traffic will flow much more easier. But we have to worry about how the rich@sses in La Jolla will somehow work this their way just to ban any change to San Diego's airport. Their solitude is not worth the suffering of an entire county!

San Diego has no choice of becoming another Los Angeles, just a smaller one, but our airport is insufficient for the current [aircraft flow] population and needs to be expended.
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lindy field
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Wed Apr 17, 2002 1:59 am

You don't suppose that with an expanded airport that San Diego could pick up the same sort of traffic as flies through PDX? They've had some long-haul service that San Diego lacks. Transpac isn't so far-fetched. In the mid 1990s I remember that Delta applied to continue their flights from SAN to HNL to NRT so as to have one-stop service to Japan from San Diego. I don't think that San Diego could handle multiple flights to Asia, but perhaps one with a belly full of cargo...

San Diego might benefit from the nixing of the El Toro plan, in terms of gaining additional service.
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Wed Apr 17, 2002 2:10 am

Sorry I can't say too much here (been really busy lately), but I will say that if San Diego had a larger airport, I would not be surprised if it attracted a much larger amount of traffic, especially if it played its marketing cards right. If San Diego had the space and the facilities, I think it could feasibly attract and support at least a few more international and domestic flights. The "if you build it, they will come" mentality is dangerous to fully adhere to, but it does hold some truth.

Another random note: One big problem with the SAN-LGW route as it is served now is: 1) The BA flight gives no access to Heathrow, which would immensely help connection opportunities, and 2) There is no incentive for AA travelers to take this flight; no miles can be accrued/redeemed. If these two factors were ameliorated, then it may very well be full in all classes each day.

I'll try to post more later.

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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Propo

Wed Apr 17, 2002 5:45 am

Would it not also be time to also consider building a high speed train from San Diego to Los Angeles? Such a train would remove some of the pressure on San Diego airport whilst reducing pollution and waste of natural resources.
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Propo

Wed Apr 17, 2002 6:00 am

The high speed rail idea has been brought up, studied, talked about, brought up, studied, ad naseum....We have a real problem making decisions and going ahead and funding things.

I would bet that March Field has a better chance of turning into a large scale hub with trans-pac flights to take some of the pressure off of LAX. They have a huge area, great long runways and at the moment don't have houses built in the approach/departure paths. March would have fairly easy access from San Diego, it would be practical to build a rail link to it from both LA and San Diego.

COntinuing on the other path....With housing prices being what they are here, median price of $304,000.00 as of the other day, property is jsut to valuable to put into an airport. And what airline will come here to establish a hub/maint facilites etc...when employees can't afford to buy a house.
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Propo

Wed Apr 17, 2002 7:47 pm

Putting aside the La Jolla problem for the moment, what are the possiblities of a joint use field at Miramar? I went to UCSD for 3 2/3 years, and it seems like there's a lot of empty space around Miramar. Is there enough to build an airline terminal, ramp, parking lots, etc? Honolulu is one example of a joint-use field, the runways are shared between Honolulu International and Hickam AFB, with separate ramps.

David / HNL
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Wed Apr 17, 2002 11:00 pm

There's plenty of space around Miramar to build a huge international airport, regardless of whether the Marines share it. Unfortunately, the problems here are not logistical, but almost purely political. What's stopping Miramar are the Marines, who do not want to leave, and NIMBY's, who don't want anything new built there.

Aaron G.
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Thu Apr 18, 2002 12:43 am

A new runway? I'd settle for a real approach to the one runway they have! Also, would they build another parking garage at the approach end of the new runway, too?TC
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Thu Apr 18, 2002 1:43 am

I'd like to know why the North Island scenario was ruled out so quickly? Was the Navy not interested in sharing the base?

Otherwise it seems that there would be many advantages:

Easy access by water taxi from Lindberg field-

Lot of room for a new terminal-

I've forgotten the runway configuration, but I believe they can handle south take off and eastern landings (over water and Coronado beach) to reduce noise?

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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Thu Apr 18, 2002 2:22 am

The North Island option is attractive, but will never fly. The Navy needs NI for carrier docking, they may have nuclear weapons stored there and the fine citizens of Coronado would never ever allow it to happen.

The military is not willing to allow joint use of Miramar and have said so several times. Add to that the unwillingness of people in the area to have the airport there and....

Rest assuered that anywhere an airport is built the planning staff will allow some sort of tall building to be built right in the center of the glide path! Doh!

The latest million dollar study on the airport issue was just released. Will look for a link to it.
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lindy field
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Proposals

Thu Apr 18, 2002 6:14 am


Your remark about the parking garage made me laugh. A new million dollar sudy on the airport issue? Gee, I bet that will prove to be money well spent..... and it'll probably recommend that yet another study be undertaken.
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RE: Airport Options In San Diego--the Latest Propo

Fri Apr 19, 2002 7:14 am

Death, taxes and the San Diego airport issue. I grew up in SD and only see one thing happening realistically—nothing. The Port Authority will keep building new terminals but I have a feeling my great grandkids will land on the same, one runway.

Here's a new report from 10News:

Miramar: Nope. Wealthy nimbys won't have it.

North Island: Nope. Too much Navy history and retired Admirals living in Coronado for that to happen.

Silver Strand: WTF? Where? The Cays? Yeah right! Don't forget the Least Terns. (Endangered bird breeding area.)

A floating airport: Um, is that for real? Why do they waste paper on this sort of thing? That would be like mixing Kansai and the daily marine layer. A sinking, waterlogged airport covered in fog. Actually, I take it back... I *could* see San Diego doing something that stupid!

I used to live in Ocean Beach, right under the departure and all I can say is, "Thanks Lindbergh Field!" Where else could you live near the beach for so cheap! There was always a 727 that took off around 11am on Saturday that damn near broke windows...


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