San Bernardino International

Wednesday, August 18, 2004
San Bernardino, Calif., airport runway project gets funds
The Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise

Getting a loaded cargo jet off the ground not only takes a lot of aerospace know-how, it takes a lot of concrete — about 10,200 feet of it. To accommodate cargo jets, the managers of the San Bernardino International Airport are grinding up the runway at the former Norton Air Force Base and replacing it with a new slab.

On Tuesday, the overhaul received a $4.6 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, according to a written announcement from Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands.

A new runway is needed to improve the prospects of attracting businesses, such as cargo carrier DHL, to San Bernardino International and the surrounding area, Lewis said.

“It’s going to have a huge impact on the development of the economy of the Inland Empire,” Lewis said. “When you combine the Stater Bros.’ headquarters, DHL as a prospect and other development that has occurred, it’s very apparent after a huge wait, the former Norton Air Force Base is coming into its own.”

During the past four years, the management of the former base has been able to attract Hillwood, a Texas-based developer, as master developer for a portion of the base. The company has in turn attracted distribution centers for retailer Kohl’s, toy maker Mattel and automobile-parts retailer Pep Boys.

In March, Stater Bros. announced it would relocate from Colton to the former base. The grocer plans to develop a 160-acre distribution center and headquarters with 1,734,500 square feet of space, increasing eventually to 2,178,250 square feet.

German cargo carrier DHL is negotiating with Hillwood to lease a 54,000-square-foot hangar at the airport. The hangar would be used as a temporary package-sorting center while DHL looks for a permanent cargo hub.

The runway project replaces an existing quilt of concrete added patch by patch since 1943, said Don Rogers, interim executive director of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, which manages the airport’s redevelopment.

The existing runway varies in thickness and can’t take the strains of today’s larger cargo jets, Rogers said. If the airport is going to attract a cargo carrier, an updated runway is a minimum requirement, Rogers said.

The runway project will cost $23 million. To date the Federal Aviation Administration has awarded the project about $19.5 million in grants. Lewis expects the remaining funding to come next year.

The project should be complete by the end of 2005, Rogers said.