San Jose Airport Growth on 45-Day Hold

The San Jose City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to place a 45-day moratorium on bids for airport construction projects while aviation officials weigh a plan that would drastically scale back the city's once-ambitious expansion of Mineta San Jose International Airport.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the dot-com bust, San Jose officials have been forced to rethink an ambitious 1997 airport expansion plan that would have created a double-deck roadway to the airport, a large central terminal for eating and checking in luggage, and a people-moving system to the airport's concourses.

``If changes have to be made, this is the ideal time to make those changes,'' said William Sherry, San Jose's aviation director since May.

Last month, a group of 41 people representing airlines, airport officials, consultants and San Jose city staffers spent three days crafting a unanimously supported plan for scaling back the airport expansion to one costing $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion, instead of $4.5 billion. Among other changes, the new plan would forgo a double-deck roadway, shut down Terminal C and greatly revamp Terminal A.

Sherry requested the moratorium so city officials can explore the feasibility of the scaled-back plan. San Jose's seven-member airport commission supports the moratorium, as do San Jose's 14 airlines and the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, Sherry said.

The most immediate impact of the moratorium will be to suspend two construction projects for a wall and another structure at the North Concourse. Airport officials also want the city to halt plans to construct a USO/Revenue Control building because it would be located at a spot that airport officials may want to expand Terminal A. A decision on the USO building was deferred until the Oct. 18 council meeting.

Airport officials said they'd like to come back to the city council Nov. 15 with recommendations for ``changes to scope, schedule and costs'' of the airport's expansion plans.

San Jose Mercury News

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