Midway Got FAA Runway Edict in '04

The FAA asked city aviation officials in the spring of 2004 to submit safety recommendations for the zones, which are spots where planes can safely stop if they overrun a runway.

"We are more focused on Midway because the runways there are shorter than the runways at O'Hare," Molinaro said.

Almost 300 of the U.S.' 427 commercial airports have runways that do not meet the 1,000-foot standard. They must comply or provide alternate safety methods by 2015.

None of the four landing approaches to Midway meet the 1,000-foot standard, the FAA said.

A scant 82 feet separated the end of Runway 31 Center and a jet-engine blast wall struck by the Southwest Boeing 737-700 on Thursday. The safety zone at the other end of the same runway is even shorter, only 48 feet, according to the FAA.

Midway's longest safety zone, off the tip of Runway 22 Left on the northeast side of the airport, measures 127 feet, the FAA said.

Extending the zones to 1,000 feet would require major demolition of dozens--perhaps hundreds--of homes and businesses surrounding the airport, especially on the southwest, southeast and northwest corners. An expansion of runway safety areas beyond the existing northeast corner of the airport would primarily affect remote parking lots.

The southeast corner would likely be the most challenging. A 1,000-foot extension of runway 31C would jut deeply into dozens of residences, reaching about as far as West 64th Street and Kilpatrick Avenue. The extension of the 31R runway would cut across Cicero Avenue and clip at least a dozen homes between West 61st and West 62nd Streets, between Cicero and South Keating Avenue.

Meanwhile, the family of Joshua Woods was busy Monday making burial funeral arrangements for the boy.

Visitation will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday in Smits Funeral Homes-Steger Memorial Chapel in Steger.

A funeral service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in the home at 3045 Chicago Rd.

Tribune staff reporters John McCormick and Carlos Sadovi contributed to this report


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