Planned airport expansion raises concerns

May 12, 2009 4:24:32 PM PDT
Ever since plans were announced three years ago to expand Bush Intercontinental Airport, many residents have been concerned. Some worry what the addition of as many as two new runways will do to their neighborhoods. Others are concerned about buyouts. Now the FAA will hear those concerns.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Living next to an airport, there are certain things you might put up with. The airport's expansion which could result in the loss of your home is not one of them -- at least not for Deborah Baack who has lived in her house ever since getting married 41 years ago.

"Everybody up here that I have talked to is upset, very upset," she said.

Folks in neighborhoods near the big airport are anxious about a proposal to add as many as two runways to Bush Intercontinental at one of four locations. The southernmost options would require the land now occupied by neighborhoods. The FAA says it needs to do something to offset substantial delays and increased travel expected in coming years. Expansion is one option.

"We will look at the best solution that addresses the delay," explained Paul Blackford with the Federal Aviation Administration.

In coming to that solution, though, the FAA is supposed to consider "environmental impact," which includes the effect of expansion on homes and where land would have to be acquired to build. The FAA is holding meetings to lay out its very preliminary proposals for Bush Airport expansion and to get feedback from the public.
Those meetings are planned for:

  • Humble Civic Center
    8233 Will Clayton Parkway
    Humble
    6-9pm, Tuesday, May 12
  • Nimitz High School cafeteria
    2005 W.W. Thome Drive
    Houston
    6-9pm, Thursday, May 14
  • The FAA says it must consider environmental impact and based in part on what it hears at those meetings, it will be better prepared to choose one option for expansion.

    But those who have spoken out against prior runway expansions question whether doing so does any good.

    Michael Cothran with Homeowners Requiring Government Equity said, "The FAA a long time ago stopped working for the people of this country. They became a bureaucracy just like the IRS is. And about the only ones that they listen to are the people who grant them money, and that's Congress."

    Some fear the decision has already been made. If they must sell, with the economy the way it is, Baack and others fear not being able to get the fair market value today that they might have just a few years ago.

    "No, no, no, we won't get it," Baack said.

    The FAA notes that things are still very much in planning stages. No course of action has yet been set. It also may choose just to rework the traffic patterns on its existing runways, or to take no action at all.

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