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.
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."
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.