Airport Growing Pains

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Airports across the country continue their fights to grow despite the economic and aviation-specific complications of the post-9/11 world. For general aviation strips, it's largely a matter of increased interest in a reduced-hassle method of transportation. At Bremerton National Airport near Seattle, all 89 of its publicly owned hangars are rented and there's a waiting list that continues to get longer. Sound familiar? To meet the growing demand for services, the airport is embarking on a number of expansion projects, including the construction of new hangars, office space and an aircraft maintenance shop. The south end of its runways will also get an extra 980 feet to improve safety and accommodate larger corporate jets. Chicago's O'Hare finally won a court battle that says, at least for now, that it doesn't have to get state approval to build new passenger terminals and aircraft gates. However, the airport will have to get permission from the state to fiddle with or add runways. At Teterboro Airport in Hackensack, N.J., it's business as usual. A group of local officials and nearby communities have sued the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to try to force an environmental review for improvement projects they fear will only serve to increase air pollution. Airport expansion is controversial in Europe as well. Birmingham International Airport has been lobbying for a new second runway but has run into stiff opposition from nearby communities. While some officials argue that expansion would help capture more of the aviation market in the future, others point to the potential for increased noise and other negative impacts on the community.