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Sounding Board: The Airport

Daily Transcript Question: The strategic planning committee of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority announced that the expansion of Lindbergh Field is not an option. Given that finding, the airport will likely need to be relocated. Assuming the airport could be moved to any appropriate site in the county -- such as existing civilian or military airport sites or available open space -- where would you recommend the airport be relocated and why?

Since the Marines are unlikely to give up Miramar after spending a fortune to relocate from El Toro, finding a location for a new airport becomes difficult.

However, there is a spot that should be considered -- the South Bay. The southern part of San Diego Bay (south of Coronado Keys) could be filled in and an airport built on it. There are some advantages to this idea:

1. There appears to be enough room.

2. It's been done before; look at Hong Kong and San Francisco.

3. It is relatively close to our current airport location, meaning that transportation logistics would be similar to how they are now, and flight paths and approaches/departures would be similar to how they are now. It might even be advantageous from a noise perspective since planes would conceivably take-off over the bay and not over people's neighborhoods.

4. It would keep the airport in San Diego.

5. It would be a relatively low cost option: the property is relatively cheap and the transportation infrastructure is nearby.

The only other solution that makes sense is to connect North Island with the current airport via an underground train. Then you could share the use of North Island's runways, using them for the larger airplanes and international flights, and use the San Diego Airport for smaller planes and domestic flights.

-- Michael Fredericksen

Senior Director, Facilities, Safety & Real Estate, Gen-Probe Inc.

I think the most logical solution to our current airport problem is to continue using Lindbergh Field as the main runway for airport operations and then move commuter flights to outlying fields like Brown Field, etc.

Moving smaller commuter flights to an outlying airport(s) would potentially free up more slots for bigger flights out of Lindbergh. I also think the SDRAA is overstating the need for a new airport and more runways. Frankly, I think they lack objectivity and have their own agenda that is currently limiting their ability to find practical solutions to our current airport issues.

-- Casey Tanaka

Coronado City Councilman

I strongly believe that no matter where the new airport is located there will be some who will be affected and will strongly oppose it.

However, I also strongly feel that a decision has to be made and that whatever decision is made is not going to please everyone.

My recommendation is Miramar.

We are closing bases all over the United States and I believe here is an opportunity for the federal government to merge a couple of them, thus leaving Miramar to be used as a civilian airport. The thought of building an airport in the desert has its merits.

However, we cannot forget the environment: gas prices, pollution, traffic from a larger traveled distance.

-- Luis Natividad

Councilmemeber, City of National City

One of the key difficulties that the San Diego region has faced with the airport problem is the understandable desire by many to rush to identifying a preferred site before all the data has been gathered and a full analysis conducted.

The problem is that potential fatal flaws with a prematurely proposed site -- such as airspace constraints, environmental issues, and transportation capacity -- are great unknowns and thus the subsequent debate that will inevitably occur will do so with a dearth of facts and an overabundance of emotion.

Far better, in my opinion, to support the ongoing efforts of the San Diego Regional Airport Authority to examine a multitude of options and then, through careful screening and objective analysis, winnow the potential list of sites. So until the Authority's work is complete I will withhold judgment about whether the airport should be relocated and where that should be.

Our region has struggled with this topic for over 40 years. Having patience for another six months, until the site screening exercise is complete, will serve San Diego well and, at the very least, will mean that the vigorous debate to come will have the benefit of at least a few objective facts and figures.

-- Erik Bruvold

Vice President of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation with responsibility for Transportation and Housing

MCAS Miramar

-- Phil Monroe

Councilmember for the City of Coronado

New Section: Sounding Board

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The Daily Transcript introduces Sounding Board, a regular opinion page feature focusing on current issues. Send your responses to soundingboard@sddt.com.

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