Saturday, February 28, 2009
SANDAG endorses overhaul of airport
Agency rejects proposal for bay
By Steve Schmidt
The San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune
A regional planning agency yesterday endorsed plans for a multibillion-dollar overhaul of Lindbergh Field, with several officials calling it the only plausible answer to San Diego’s growing aviation needs.
oted in favor of shifting most passenger services to the north side of the airport and closer to mass transit and Interstate 5.
“It’s long overdue,” board member and county Supervisor Dianne Jacob said. “I hope we will find a way to expedite this.” The ambitious proposal, dubbed Destination Lindbergh, was crafted by a panel of local political heavyweights led by San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.
“I really think it’s a long-term, workable plan for Lindbergh Field,” said Sanders, also a SANDAG board member. “I’m committed to seeing this through.”
The Sanders panel recently outlined $5 billion to $11 billion in improvements for the single-runway airport, which is expected to reach capacity by 2025 because of added traffic.
At the SANDAG hearing yesterday, lawyer Leon Campbell of La Jolla touted a novel proposal to build a three-runway airport in the southern waters of San Diego Bay.
Campbell, representing a private business group pushing the idea, said overhauling Lindbergh Field would be a waste of money, given its cramped confines.
But Sanders and other officials say there is no realistic alternative to Lindbergh. In 2006, county voters rejected a measure to pursue a commercial
airport at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station.
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority officials say improvements in aircraft technology and design, along with other measures, will stretch Lindbergh Field’s life span past 2025.
Keith Wilschetz, authority director of airport planning, said the deepening recession is causing passenger growth at the airport to level off.
Members of the Sanders panel, which included representatives of SANDAG and the San Diego Unified Port District, favor shifting rental-car lots,
parking, passenger check-in services and other operations to the north side of the airport, along Pacific Highway. A transit hub connecting Lindbergh to
buses, trains, taxis and possibly a high-speed rail line also would be developed.
Boarding gates would remain on the south side, which would require the eventual construction of a subway under the runway to move people around the
The improvements would be phased in, starting in 2015, and financed through airport revenue, including landing fees paid by airlines, along with
federal, local and state funds.
One of the plan’s chief objectives is to ease traffic on Harbor Drive and other city streets near Lindbergh Field. The San Diego City Council is expected to consider the plan in mid-March. It will then move to the airport authority for a vote.