SMAAC Forum to Dog MAC at Nokomis
Park July 30th
When we discovered that MAC was doing a series
of presentations about the new runway that opened last year at MSP,
and that one of these was scheduled for Nokomis on July 30, we decided
that SMAAC should hold its Forum at Nokomis on July 30 as a counterpoint.
We thought this would be an excellent way to keep MAC honest.
MAC might not announce that the new runway will
be used daily for about 600 arrivals and departures over Minneapolis
for approximately 12 weeks starting next month. Arriving aircraft,
lined up for landing on Runway 17, will fly over downtown, and departing
planes will take off to the north and fly over neighborhoods not
now experiencing that many flights in a year.
Plans for these wrong-way operations in non-emergency
situations have not been not publicized. MAC says that FAA rules
state that operational changes at airports are "temporary"
if they apply for six months or less; so re-routing traffic temporarily
did not, by regulation, need to be mentioned as part of the runway
reconstruction project description. It sure didn't come up at the
one and only on-the-record public hearing last November. Can any
part of the original expansion/new runway Record of Decision be
"temporarily" modified without re-negotiation?
This wrong-way use of the new runway was not
mentioned at the June 27 "Open House" held by Minneapolis
to "get a sense" of what compromise settlement on residential
sound insulation might be acceptable to residents. There are other
issues if airliners fly over the City from the new runway, such
as safety, environmental impacts, emergency response plans, homeland
security and compatible land-use (zoning). SMAAC tried to get cities
to object to the main runway reconstruction projects that precipitated
wrong-way use of the new runway. We argued that the adverse impacts
were intensified by increasing hub operations at MSP.
Because of the hub expansion, FAA is allowing
more flights per hour–twice as many as in 1995, not 25 percent
more. These rates make a big difference in runway use and airspace
management. If operations were more evenly spread throughout the
day, runway maintenance or repair projects would interfere far less
Lower rates and lower use per day was assumed
when agreements were established between the airport (MAC, FAA,
and airlines) and regulatory agencies and municipalities. If the
hub were smaller, local travelers most likely would have more choice
of carriers, lower fares and easier check-in and boarding.
Valid, if tardy, municipal objections and complaints
about operations on the new runway are abundant. There is increased
annoyance among residents because of more frequent interruptions
at peak hours, even if the high rates are limited in duration.
SMAAC is challenging elected officials as well
as MAC to answer neighborhood concerns and return neighborhood representatives
to the airport planning processes. Here is a chance to show that
common folks can be trusted to deal with specialized and complex
issues. Ask SMAAC, your watch-dog group, to translate MAC's answers,
if any, to your questions at their meeting-we'll be nearby.