City Adds Its Bit to Fort Lauderdale Runway Squabble

In recent months, people who live in northeastern Hollywood neighborhoods have had to deal with an increase in air traffic from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.


The Wrights' midnight wake-up call comes more frequently than it used to.

It starts with a low rumble, barely shaking the mementoes on their living room mantle, then crescendos into a jet-engine roar that rattles their apartment windows.

''When we first moved here, the planes didn't come over at all. You could hardly notice,'' said Earl Thomas Wright, who moved into an apartment near Hollywood beach five years ago. ``Now they fly directly over the complex. They really rattle the windows when they come over.''

In recent months, people who live in northeastern Hollywood neighborhoods have had to deal with an increase in air traffic from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration recently authorized more frequent use of the crosswinds runway, which directs planes over some neighborhoods in northeastern Hollywood and parts of Dania Beach.

This month, officials in those two cities filed challenges to the FAA decision. The Broward County Commission, which serves as the airport operator, has done the same.

Hollywood City Attorney Dan Abbott said the increase in noise is an undue burden to residents, who were under the impression the crosswinds runway would be used sparingly.

The airport generally uses two runways, one on the north side of the airport and the other to the south. They generally direct planes east and west of the airport.

The main runway, which handles most commercial airliners, is about 9,000 feet long. The south runway is 5,300 feet long and serves general aviation and smaller commuter planes.

The crosswinds runway, which runs diagonally between the two main runways, was used only when weather and wind conditions were unfavorable for the main runway or when one of the runways was down for maintenance, airport spokesman Jim Reynolds said.

Reynolds said the FAA plans to use the crosswinds runway to handle the increase in air traffic at the airport, which reported a 111 percent increase in passengers over the past decade.

The crosswinds runway is about 7,000 feet long and handles both commercial airlines and smaller planes.

Broward County officials want to add 3,300 feet to the south runway so it can serve more planes, but that plan might not happen for five to 10 years.

''We've never argued about the use of the runway, but the FAA wants to use it to relieve congestion,'' Reynolds said. ``We don't think that's the way to go.''

Wright said airport officials usually send letters to residents in his complex with advance notice of heavy air traffic when maintenance or construction work is planned on either of the runways.

Then there are the days and nights when the only warnings they receive are their windows rattling and beds shaking.

Wright said next-day package carriers such as UPS and FedEx often take off late at night, waking him and his wife, Alice.

Alice Wright is listed as one of the plaintiffs in the challenge.

''We've definitely woke up in the middle of the night because two or three planes fly over the apartment,'' Wright said. ``It's nerve-racking.''

Miami Herald



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