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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 with operations.

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.



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