Wednesday, December 16, 2015

San Diego County Considers Expanding McClellan-Palomar Airport (KCRQ)

San Diego County will study a plan to extend the runway for Carlsbad’s McClellan-Palomar airport so it can accommodate larger planes and even small commercial airlines.

San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday to approve the staff-recommended CD-III Modified Classification Option in the new airport 20-year master plan.

The plan received the most public support out of three proposed designs.

Supervisors unanimously voted to have staff examine the feasibility of extending the runway by 800 or 900 feet. The cost of the proposed expansion is estimated to be between $80 and $104 million.

Some North County neighbors argued against the plan, raising concerns about increased traffic noise and pollution, but airport officials say those concerns will be studied in the EIR.

San Marcos resident Ray Bender said the board should not rely on recommendations of a consultant.

“You have an independent obligation to look at the economics, to look at the engineering,” Bender said suggesting the addition of more planes to Carlsbad may not bring economic benefit to the county.

Vista resident Stephanie Jackal questioned how the proposed extension will impact those living east of the airport. She asked the board to include consideration of noise impact of approaching aircraft to the master plan.
Public input will be taken during the EIR process, county officials said.

Part of the proposed expansion could mean moving the airport to the north. Supervisor Bill Horn said those pilots who may be inconvenienced should consider relocating to Fallbrook, Borrego or French Valley.

“This is a big huge commercial driver and we’re planning an airport for the next 50 years, if not 100 years,” said Horn. “It’s no longer a little small airport that you can fly in and out of with your Cessna 210.”

Several of the supervisors pointed out that the vote was just the beginning of the process and that more public input would be possible during the EIR process.

The EIR could take at least six months to complete then airport officials would need final approval from the board before construction could begin.

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