But airport reports show that 5.7 million passengers used the airport in 1999 -- 31 percent less than the 1989 projection. Last year, the number was 6.8 million.
"They don't need the runway," said Jim Young, who grew up in the Hillcrest neighborhood. "What they said 10 years ago to justify what they have done already never happened."
Pelly, the airports director, said the master plans, which are updated every five years, look at the worst-case scenario.
"You've got to serve the public," he said. "It's a lot worse to get caught short."
But ultimately another airport between West Palm Beach and Orlando is needed to provide significant relief at PBIA, Pelly said.
"I've told everybody that I think at some point in time there needs to be an airport north of here," he said. "That's where the capacity relief is really going to come from. The problem is nobody wants an airport, but everybody needs it."
Staff writer Hector Florin contributed to this story.