Broward Commission Votes to Expand Runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport

20 years later, the answer is finally 'yes'

Opponents argued Tuesday that the plans remain flawed and the runway was not needed.

Officials from Dania Beach and Davie, the two cities that would be most affected by a longer south runway, called on the county to review the data being used to justify another runway. They said traffic at Fort Lauderdale has increased only while that at Miami International Airport has declined and that Miami has enough capacity to handle more flights.

"You can't ignore the reality of the data and the facts when it so affects the environment and people's lives," Dania Beach City Commissioner Ann Castro said.

Most residents complained about how the loud noise of commercial jets would harm their ability to enjoy their homes, sit on their patios or work in their gardens. Some held up pictures of their homes, and others became emotional and charged that the commission was bowing to the will of the business community.

"You wasted our money before, and you're getting ready to waste it again," said Fay Bartelmes of Dania Beach.

Largely outnumbered, business executives and residents from elsewhere in Broward urged the commission to expand the airport. They said it was crucial to the tourism-based economy as well as to residents who live here that travel.

"It would be a travesty if the first impression and the last impression people have of Broward County is less than five-star," said public relations executive Kathy Koch, noting the high-end hotels being built along the beach.

Even after a decision by the county, the Federal Aviation Administration must approve a new runway. That could happen by the end of the year, allowing design and construction work to begin early next year and be completed by 2014.

The 8,000-foot option would require it to bridge over Federal Highway and the Florida East Coast Railroad. The runway would slope slightly upward west to east to reach a height of about 45 feet above the roadway and rail tracks.

In addition, the airport would have to close the crosswind runway and buy part or all of the nearby Wyndham Fort Lauderdale Airport Hotel. About 15 acres of wetlands also will be destroyed, but the airport will pay for improvements to West Lake Park to offset the damage.

"We ask you to demonstrate leadership for all of Broward County," said construction executive Terry Stiles in urging support for the 8,000-foot runway.

But Mike McKeever, a commercial pilot and Dania Beach resident, questioned the safety of a sloped runway: "If you vote for this, you will be voting for the albatross of runways."

Scott Wyman can be reached at or 954-356-4511.

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