Go-ahead for Philadelphia

THE FAA has approved a huge $5.2 billion expansion of Philadelphia International Airport. Work is expected to begin in 2012 and be completed in 2025. The project includes a fifth runway and the lengthening of two more and the UPS facility would be moved to the west side of the site to make way for the extra runway. New terminals will connect to the existing ones via a people mover and the various car rental agencies will be brought together in a new 4,000 space centre. Furthermore multi-storey car parks A, C and D will be enlarged, adding 3,500 spaces.
Funding will come from Philadelphia revenue bonds, passenger-facility charges and federal FAA grants. There has been some local opposition because some housing will have to be demolished and 176 acres (71ha) of wetlands and waterways (including some infill of the Delaware River) will be lost. Under US law, opponents have 60 days to file litigation to try to prevent the project going ahead.
The airport’s CEO Mark Gale said that: “Nobody has come up to me and said that they are 100% against this. What they want to talk about is how are we going to pay for it, how are the projects going to be phased in, and what is the impact going to be for me, as an airline, on my rates and charges? There are 12 or 15 different projects that we will work on concurrently, and probably not do any heavy construction activity for at least two years. In order to put the runway in, we need to move UPS.”
Commenting on the prospect of people losing their homes, Mark added: “We could have an agreement with a homeowner that we will buy their home, but not take control of the property for another two or three years. We have that much work to get out of the gate. We are trying desperately to move UPS and keep them at the airport. Those discussions are still ongoing.”
Up to 80 businesses would have to be moved north of the existing site but on the positive side construction would bring in 3,700 jobs and once completed up to an extra 2,900 more airport jobs could be created.