Seek cost-effective solutions for air travel in Orange Count

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Seek cost-effective solutions for air travel in Orange Count

Post by Hanna » Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:52 pm

Seek cost-effective solutions for air travel in Orange County
Letters to the Editor for July 15

The cost escalation for the expansion of John Wayne Airport is not unexpected ["JWA budget climbs," Front Page, July 7]. However, the investment in a new terminal is not justified, because it would provide only one aircraft gate to 19, which would accommodate the 10.8 million annual passenger limit specified in the current JWA settlement agreement (after the settlement agreement allowed additional passengers, five ground-level gates were added; replacing them with bridge-served gates is not justified).

Adding a new terminal also may be illegal, because new carbon-dioxide-limiting legislation has become state law, reinforced by U.S. Supreme Court rulings requiring the EPA to control production of carbon dioxide – primarily to mitigate the nation's worst polluted atmosphere in the Southern California air basin.

The growing aviation travel market should instead be accommodated by high-speed express-nonstop, electric-magnetic-levitation vehicles on a new guideway elevated above the I-5 and 14 freeways from the county transportation centers at the Irvine Great-Park and the Irvine Platinum Triangle to a new international airport at Palmdale located outside the polluted Southern California air basin, as designated by the Southern California Association of Governments' Regional Transportation Plan.

The construction of the mag-lev guideway in Orange County would be financed by FAA's Aid-to-Airport grants, matched by JWA revenue from parking, passenger-gate and aircraft-landing fees and from revenue bonds eventually redeemed by the sale of JWA for development. This would eventually put the 500 acres owned by the county at JWA onto the county property-tax rolls. The guideway portion in Los Angeles would be funded in a similar manner with revenues from LAX and Long Beach airports. Individual mag-lev vehicles would be owned and operated by individual airlines (or corporations) and operated in the same manner as feeder-airlines are operated.

The FAA would control the computer-driven mag-lev vehicle traffic, as it now administers the current national air-traffic control system.

– Charles Griffin of Newport Beach
control-system engineer

Give us a clear analysis

The cost of expanding John Wayne Airport will increase to $570 million. Sources of the additional revenue for the project are listed as "airport restaurants, kiosks and parking structures, ... bonds and state grants."

The largest part of the project will be paid for by a user fee not mentioned in the article – a $4.50 Passenger Facility Fee that has been tacked onto each JWA ticket since last July. Travelers are paying to build a new 300,000 square-foot terminal, six more airline departure gates and approximately 2,500 additional parking spaces.

In private industry, no expansion of that size would be undertaken without a clear analysis of what it can produce in added output. In this case too few questions are being asked and no answers are being provided. No one – neither county officials nor the newspaper – is publicly commenting on how much capacity is being created by this half-billion dollar physical expansion and to what extent it will be used to provide additional flights and service to more destinations.

Currently, the airport is restricted as to how many passengers can use it by an agreement between the county and Newport Beach. The city is seeking to retain the limits to protect its residents from unwelcome noise. If county supervisors agree to limit use of the airport – for the benefit of those who live under its flight path – this is understandable public policy. But then, why spend all that money on a major airport expansion?

– Leonard Kranser of Dana Point
editor, El Toro Info Site, ... 766536.php

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