| Thursday, April 26, 2007
County approves new terminal at ‘disjointed’ Palomar Airport
By Craig Gustafson
The San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune
CARLSBAD ? The mishmash of buildings that form Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar Airport will be torn down and replaced with a new terminal in a nearly $24 million face-lift that officials say will reinvent the 48-year-old airport.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors yesterday unanimously approved a plan to use federal grants to combine 10 smaller upgrades into a single large project.
County officials said they expect to begin receiving construction bids this summer with the goal of starting work in October and finishing by November 2008.
The project calls for a new 18,000-square-foot commuter terminal with such amenities as baggage areas, outdoor gardens, a restaurant, and curbside drop-off and pickup.
The overall size of the airport will remain unchanged. But the improvements ?will bring the airport into the 21st century and provide some real good service to North County,? said Peter Drinkwater, director of San Diego County airports.
Federal and state officials have long criticized the airport’s layout. Drinkwater said those issues will be addressed by adding an inspection facility, access roads, security improvements and parking lots.
Drinkwater described the airport as a series of ?disjointed, dysfunctional? buildings built in the 1960s and 1970s with no clear vision.
?We’re not making the airport bigger. We’re reinventing the airport to be more modernized, safer, more efficient and a better airport,? he said.
Supervisor Bill Horn, whose 5th District includes Carlsbad, called the airport an important asset for North County residents and businesspeople who can avoid driving to Lindbergh Field in San Diego.
The general aviation airport is operated by the county and used by private aircraft, corporate aircraft and two commuter airlines ? AmericaWest Express and United Express. Built in 1959, it is named for aviator Gerald McClellan, a North County civic leader.
The airport has passenger service to Los Angeles and Phoenix from its 5,000-foot-long runway, although that could be expanded in the future.
Vision Airlines has committed to bringing a commuter flight from McClellan-Palomar to Las Vegas, where the carrier is based, starting in June.
Drinkwater said the upgrades will help attract more airlines and possibly expand service to markets such as Dallas, Denver, Sacramento and Salt Lake City.
?There’s no reason why those kind of services can’t be offered out of Palomar,? he said. ?We’re going to let the market decide.?