Runway Fracas Fractures Partnership

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Which comes first, the expanded terminal or the runway? The issue vexing relations between Ft. Lauderdale and Broward County came to a head last week with the county ignoring an order by the city to stop working on new buildings at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. County lawyer Ed Dion said it will take a court order to change the county's mind and now the city is threatening legal action. This project, we remind you, is a partnership between the city and the county and it shows the divisive power of commercial interests, jet noise and public opinion. As part of the deal, the county originally agreed to build a new runway on the south side of the airport (away from Ft. Lauderdale). Nearby residents disapproved. Residents next to the proposed runway convinced the county to review that plan and now Ft. Lauderdale is afraid it will get the second runway in its backyard. Aside from who gets the noise, The Miami Herald reported there is general support for expanding the airport, which has become the fastest-growing airport in the U.S. About six years ago, the city and county agreed to a $1.2 billion expansion, which included the south runway, more gates and infrastructure projects. With the runway on hold, the city maintains the whole package should be shelved. "Those gates would support more traffic and we were promised that traffic would be shared on two runways," city lawyer Harry Stewart told the Herald. "It's like building a project without increasing the roads to get there." The county claims it's living up to the deal and it will keep on building the $265 million parking facility and car rental facility now under construction. A public meeting will be held Sept. 16.