McKinney residents who gathered Thursday to view the preliminary environmental study for the proposed commercial air service terminal said they are concerned about the impact the project would have on noise levels, traffic and the environment. These preliminary findings still need TxDOT Aviation and Federal Aviation Administration review and approvals.
A $200 million bond item to fund improvements and projects at McKinney National Airport, including the new commercial air service terminal building, will be on the ballot for city residents in May. If approved, construction on the 144,000-square-foot terminal with four gates would begin between 2024 and 2025 with the terminal projected to open in 2026.
Many attendees were from neighboring towns and cities, such as Fairview. They said they worry about having to deal with the effects without having a vote in the matter.
“I don’t think they’re considering the neighbors,” said Lee Moore, a Fairview resident. “It will be flying right over my house.”
Other Fairview residents said they are concerned about the impact to the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to migrating birds among other wildlife. The sanctuary is on the flight path, but was not included in the environmental study area, residents said.
The proposed commercial terminal would be built on the east side of the existing airport, north of FM 546, which will not require property acquisition.
Average daily departures in 2026 could range from four to 20. The preliminary environmental analysis is based on 20 daily departures to estimate the greatest impact to traffic, noise and water resources.
The majority of the environmental study area is contained within city-owned, airport property and will not impact wetlands or floodplains, as the majority of those resources are located northeast of the project area, according to preliminary study maps.
One stream runs through the project area, but Garver’s North Texas Aviation Leader Mitchell McAnally said the tree groves will likely be avoided to mitigate impact.
If the day-night average sound level — the average of the sound levels of multiple events at one location over a 24-hour period — is above 65, it is considered a nuisance noise level by the FAA.
“Based on preliminary noise contours, the 65 DNL only goes off city of McKinney-owned property in undeveloped areas,” McAnally said.
Noise contour maps for 2026 show a wider range of noise impact to the south because the majority of departures take off in that direction.
“As we grow the airport over the years, the noise contours will extend further,” said Barry Shelton, deputy city manager. “A small extension does actually go just south of FM 546 by 2031, and that’s because there’s more flights taking off to the south.”
The amount and type of flights affects noise.
If the airport were to continue operating as it does today, with no commercial terminal, there would be a total of 449.1 takeoffs and landings per day by 2026. If the terminal is built, it would add 40 operations a day, totaling 489.1 landings and takeoffs.
Cars heading westbound on FM 546 during morning rush hour will increase by 291 in 2026 if the commercial terminal is built, according to the preliminary studies. Currently, 1,080 cars head westbound on FM 546 during morning rush hour.
During afternoon rush hour, cars heading eastbound on FM 546 will increase by 299 in 2026 if the commercial terminal is built, according to preliminary studies. Currently, 897 cars head eastbound on FM 546 during afternoon rush hour.
“Any hour of the day there will probably be about a 300 car increase,” Shelton said. “Everyone’s really concerned about the roads not being able to handle the traffic, but, being a four-gate terminal, it’s not going to have this huge traffic impact.”
But some residents, such as Andrew Harris, said they are concerned about traffic increases.
“Traffic is going to be insane,” he said, adding that the traffic projections discussed during the meeting only show impact directly around the airport.
Part of the proposed terminal project would include constructing a roundabout with a slip lane that would allow people headed east on FM 546 to bypass the roundabout connecting terminal entries and exits to the roadway.
In 2026, FM 546 will still function at Level of Service A, meaning free flow of traffic with no delays. By 2031, the roadway will function at Level of Service B with light to moderate traffic and no delays. The city of McKinney’s policy is to plan and design roadways to function at Level of Service D or better, meaning steady traffic with minimal delays.
A public hearing will provide an opportunity to present the draft environmental assessment later this year, ahead of preparing the final environmental assessment to submit to the FAA.
“The topic was not covered well tonight,” said McKinney resident Tom Michero. “We didn’t see how other airports compare. We need more information, which won’t be had until after the election once the city gets the money.”
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