PUBLIC TO GET QUIET LOOK AT RUNWAY PLANS

The location chosen for a new runway could determine whether planes from Palm Beach International Airport fly closer to Donald Trump's historic Mar-a-Lago landmark and Conniston Middle School or two of the only West Palm Beach neighborhoods east of Dixie Highway that are not nationally designated as historic sites.

The Federal Aviation Administration is considering two paths for a second commercial runway being proposed at the airport. As part of a three-year study of the runway project, federal officials are weighing the effects both locations will have on the environment, including surrounding neighborhoods, historic sites and schools.

Both plans would put the new 8,000-foot runway next to the airport's existing runway. The main difference: one proposed by airport officials would be built 800 feet to the south of where the airport's southernmost runway now sits, the other proposed by the FAA would be built 800 feet north of the commercial runway.

Residents living under Palm Beach International Airport's flight path will get their first glimpse at the two plans at a public workshop tonight .

The FAA's idea, at an estimated cost of $629 million, would require demolition of some concourse gates, but would avoid putting planes above Mar-a-Lago, neighborhoods also designated historic and the middle school. The airport's plan, whose price tag the FAA estimates at about $300 million, would have planes flying over those places. Some residents fear it also might require the airport's buying homes in the nearby Vedado neighborhood.

The FAA is evaluating both sites to determine how much noise the new runway would bring to nearby neighborhoods. Federal officials are required to give sites on the national register of historic places special consideration. The runway's effect on public parks, schools and places of worship also will receive an extensive review.

As part of the environmental study, federal officials considered about two dozen proposals. The FAA's and the airport's plans were the only two that they considered viable after an initial review.

The airport's plan would lengthen the airport's general aviation runway from 3,210 to 8,000 feet.

To make room for it, several business that service private planes and corporate jets would be moved from their buildings along Southern Boulevard and relocated to land near Belvedere Road and Military Trail that was the former own of Golfview.

The airport's third, crosswind runway would be shortened from 6,932 to 4,000 feet so that it no longer intersects the main runway.

In addition to bringing planes closer to the historic Central Park neighborhood, Conniston Middle School and Mar-a-Lago, the plan would also have planes flying closer to the Vedado neighborhood, located north of Southern Boulevard and west of Parker Avenue. The community sits next to the former Hillcrest neighborhood, where hundreds of homes were bought and demolished because of airport noise.

Trump has opposed the extension, citing Mar-a-Lago's national historic designation.

Meanwhile, Vedado is currently seeking the federal designation. It has already received a local designation from the city.

The FAA proposal would put the new runway 1,600 feet north of the current general aviation runway.

But in order to build it, 11 gates in the airport's terminal in concourses B and C would have to be demolished and relocated. The airport's air cargo facility would also have to be moved.

The general aviation runway would remain intact. The crosswind runway would be eliminated. Airport businesses along Southern Boulevard would not have to be relocated.

Bailey Gray, president of the Southland Park neighborhood, just east of Dixie Highway, said the northern shift would bring planes closer to his community and neighboring Prospect Park.

The neighborhoods are the only communities east of Dixie Highway and directly under the airport's flight path that do not have a national historic designation, Gray said.

But neighborhood residents are feverishly working to get state officials to classify the area as land that is eligible for the national designation. The state classification will take about three to six months to obtain, and will have to be considered by federal aviation officials as part of their study, Gray said.

"It would eliminate that clear-cut path that they have with the north runway option," Gray said. "Right now there is a gap."

Airport officials say the added runway will help reduce delays at Palm Beach International by allowing planes to take off and land more quickly.

But FAA officials say neither location will leave enough distance between the two runways to allow simultaneous takeoffs and landings.

PBIA controllers are required to keep a distance of 3 miles between departing planes unless there is a 15-degree angle between their flight paths.

At tonight's meeting, residents will not be allowed to publicly comment on the runway plans. Instead, they can submit their concerns in writing or have them transcribed by a court reporter, said Lindy McDowell, the FAA's project director for the study.

Residents opposed to the project have expressed frustration with the set-up. They want to sound off against the project, but not in writing.

"I am very surprised at the way they are going to conduct the meeting," said Jose Rodriguez, president of the Vedado neighborhood. "The public is becoming very uneasy. They don't trust that all their written statements are going to be considered."

- jennifer_sorentrue@pbpost.com

If you go

What: FAA public workshop on PBIA runway extension

When: 5 to 8 tonight.

Where: Airport Hilton, 150 Australian Ave., suburban West Palm Beach.

PBIA's proposed changes

Businesses: Several businesses on the south side of the airport would be moved to the former Golfview neighborhood.

Buyout zone: Purchase these properties. The land falls within the runway 'crash' zone.

Longer runway: Extend this 3,210-foot general aviation runway to 8,000 feet so it could be used by larger commercial aircraft.

Crosswind runway: Shorten this runway from 6,932 feet to 4,000 feet so that it no longer intersects with the commercial runway.

Source: Federal Aviation Administration, the Palm Beach County Department of Airports.

FAA's proposed changes at PBIA

The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed building a new 8,000-foot runway to help reduce delays at the airport. The runway would be built 800 feet north of the existing commercial runway. Under the proposal, the airport's crosswind runway would be eliminated. Eleven gates also would be demolished and replaced with new concourses. The plan is one of two being considered by the FAA as part of a three-year environmental study.

Source: Federal Aviation Administration, the Palm Beach County Department of Airports.


Loading