The runway would allow the county to save the cost of bridging Federal Highway and buying out a nearby hotel. Also, officials might not have to buy out the homes in the Melaleuca Gardens neighborhood of Dania Beach because the runway would be farther away and create less noise for that area.
Although the runway could handle only commuter-size jets and propeller planes, the consultants say it still would meet the goal of reducing delays at the airport and handling the growth in traffic expected over the next 14 years.
"Considering that we'd be able to preserve Melaleuca Gardens and would probably save a billion dollars in construction costs, this is a really intriguing alternative," said County Commissioner John Rodstrom, a critic of the current runway plans.
The airport's longstanding plans have been for the current south runway to be lengthened so it could handle commercial jet traffic. It has long been stalled, though, in light of complaints from environmentalists and neighborhood activists. The FAA consultant report lists several other options, including the longtime alternative of building a new runway just north of the current main runway, and building new runways on the airport's north and south sides while decommissioning its third, diagonal runway.
The consultants will discuss their findings with commissioners on Tuesday afternoon. The county could then decide whether to continue to pursue the current plans or switch to one of the other options.
Under the new alternative, a 6,001-foot runway could be built only 300 feet north of the current southern runway. Although Federal Highway would not have to be bridged, the option would still require the relocation of nearby railroad tracks.
If the county did switch to the option of a southern commuter runway, opposition would likely continue despite its expected lower cost and its greater distance from Dania Beach neighborhoods.
Brenda Chalifour of Save our Shoreline said she still questions the entire purpose of a new runway and is concerned about the impact of any plan on nearby John U. Lloyd State Park and other neighborhoods. Randy Dunlap, a longtime supporter of the current project, dislikes the new idea, saying it does less to reduce congestion, would be less safe and would increase noise in Davie to the west.
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