Wednesday, March 24, 1999

Airport leaders lobby Congress

Money would help pay for new runway

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Officials from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport were in Washington on Tuesday lobbying Congress for money to pay for an expansion that would include a new runway.

        Members of the Kenton County Airport Board also used a breakfast meeting to brief U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning of Southgate, U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas of Boone County, and aides to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Louisville and U.S. Rep. Rob Portman of Terrace Park about plans to study how a new north-south runway would affect the residents and environment around the Boone County airport.

        “We're primarily up here for two trade association meetings,” said Bob Holscher, director of aviation. ""But while we're up here every year for the meetings, we always make a trip up to (Capitol) Hill to talk to the members of Congress from the area.”

        Among those making the trip were airport board Chairwoman Bert Huff of Fort Mitchell and Kenton County Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd.

        The board was interested in learning the status of an $89 billion federal aviation bill that is expected to pass Congress before the end of March, Mr. Holscher said.

        The bill would triple the amount of money the airport receives annually from the federal government, from $3.1 million to $9.3 million.

        The additional money would be used for improvement and expansion projects, including helping to pay for a new terminal and upgrades at some gates.

        It also would go toward noise-mitigation programs related to construction of the runway.

        The board has said 214 houses near the airport would have to be bought and then torn down to make room for the runway.

        Other homes could be eligible for soundproofing, but the location of those have not been determined because studies on construction of the runway are not completed.

        The airport has said the new runway, along with an extension of an east-west run way, are needed to handle future growth and reduce delays.

        Cost of the new runway has not been determined, and it could be up to 10 years before it opens, Mr. Bunning said.

        In the long term, the bill also would free up more federal money for major construction projects such as runways by declaring that all aviation taxes go directly to aviation and airport needs.

        About $8.1 billion was generated last year by an 8 percent tax on airline tickets. Congress has used the money in the past to pay for items and programs other than aviation.

        Mrs. Huff noted Mr. Lucas, a former Boone County judge-executive and airport board member, was one of the first area members of Congress to back the bill.

        “We are gratified” with Mr. Lucas' support, Mrs. Huff said, “and we hope that area congressmen from Kentucky and Ohio will do the same.”

        Said Mr. Lucas: “The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has played an instrumental part in the economic growth of Northern Kentucky.

        ,“I'm going to do all I can to build up on the success of our world-class airport.”


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