MINNEAPOLIS & ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 27, 2005--Metropolitan Airports Commission Chairwoman Vicki Tigwell today cut the ribbon putting a new, fourth runway into service at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP).
Tigwell was joined by Federal Aviation Administration Great Lakes Regional Administrator Chris Blum and Northwest Airlines President and Chief Executive Officer Doug Steenland at the 10:30 a.m. ribbon cutting on the runway.
Located on the west side of the airport, nearly parallel to Highway 77 (Cedar Avenue), the new 8,000-foot Runway 17/35 increases MSP's airfield capacity by about 25 percent. Approximately 37 percent of departing flights and 17 percent of arrivals at MSP will use the new runway. Prior to the runway's opening, MSP was the busiest airport in the world with only two runways able to operate simultaneously.
"Increased airfield capacity provides opportunities for more air service and reduces the likelihood of flight delays," Tigwell said. "The new runway is the last major project in our 2010 expansion program, strengthening the airport's ability to expand the region's economy for decades to come."
Initial planning for the runway project began in 1989 as part of a dual-track airport planning process to determine whether MSP should be expanded at its current site or relocated to Dakota County. The decision to build the runway came in 1996, when the Minnesota State Legislature ended the dual-track process and directed the Metropolitan Airports Commission to expand MSP at its present site.
Runway construction began in the spring of 1999. Originally scheduled for completion in late 2003, construction was slowed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks due to the reduction in air travel and related budgetary concerns. Demand for air travel has since returned to record levels.
"New runways such as this one at Minneapolis are key solutions to helping the FAA improve airport capacity and efficiency issues here in the Midwest and across the nation," said FAA Great Lakes Regional Administrator Chris Blum. "With this runway addition, Minneapolis travelers can look forward to a more efficient air system and the continuation of the FAA providing the safest air traffic control operation in the world."
The runway's concrete surface is 20" thick (twice as thick as highway surfaces) and sits atop 12" of crushed limestone and three feet of sand. An instrument landing system provides pilots with electronic guidance for aircraft alignment and descent gradient until visual contact with the runway. More than 1,300 lights help direct aircraft using the new runway and adjacent new taxiways L and K. A new de-icing pad was developed at the north end of the runway and taxiway system, ensuring efficient, environmentally safe de-icing of departing aircraft.
"The Metropolitan Airports Commission, through its 2010 plan, has developed a first-rate airfield and terminal complex," said Doug Steenland, president and chief executive officer of Northwest Airlines. "This new runway allows Northwest Airlines to serve its customers with even greater efficiency and convenience."
Sometimes called the North-South Runway because of the directions the runway ends face, the runway will be used almost exclusively for aircraft departing toward or arriving from the south. Use of the runway to the north, over the city of Minneapolis, will be limited to emergency situations and extreme weather conditions.
To reduce noise impacts south of the airport, westbound jet aircraft departing the new runway will be directed first over the sparsely populated Minnesota River Valley before turning on their assigned headings. The MAC is acquiring 29 homes and 136 multi-family units and offering noise mitigation to an estimated 300 single-family homes and 447 multi-family units in the most severely impacted areas of Bloomington.
About one-third of all aircraft operations will occur on the new runway; roughly two-thirds will still take place on the airport's parallel runways, 12L-30R and 12R-30L.
A replica of Charles Lindbergh's famous Spirit of St. Louis and a Northwest Airlines A319 will be the first airplanes to take off after officials cut the ribbon on Runway 17/35.
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