Friday, February 23, 2001

Runway study is in the mail

FAA looks at environmental impact

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that the draft version of a key environmental study of a proposed new runway at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport should be available to the public by the end of next week.

        The multi-volume reports went out by mail Wednesday to 12 Tristate locations, starting the final approval process for the new north-south runway and an extension of the existing east-west runway at the airport.

        FAA officials would not disclose what the report said. And neither airport officials nor other locations had received a copy as of late Thursday.

    Here are the times and places for the two Federal Aviation Administration sessions to gather feedback on the environmental impact of the proposed new runway and runway extension at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport:
    • April 3, 5:30-8:30 p.m, Stephens Elementary School, 5687 North Bend Road (Ky. 237), Hebron.
    • April 4, 5-8 p.m., Rapid Run Middle School, 6385 Rapid Run, Delhi Township.
        Still, airport officials welcomed the news that it was on the way.

        “It's another step in the completion of the runways,” airport spokesman Ted Bushelman said. “And that's been our goal: To get it done.”

        Airport officials are seeking to build a new 8,000-foot, north-south runway west of and parallel to the existing two north-south runways.

        In addition, a 2,000-foot extension to the existing 10,000-foot east-west runway would be built on the western end, allowing for full flights to the Far East.

        The project would cost an estimated $250 million. Officials hoping to open the new runway by 2005.

        The environmental study covers 21 topics ranging from air quality to noise to wildlife to potential impact on wetlands. It will show what the impact would be, and the draft could ask for further study for certain areas.

        The release essentially begins a 60-day public comment period, which can be extended if there is a lot of feedback.

        A final record of decision on the runway is due within 30 days of the release of the final environmental study, and FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said fed eral officials hope to have that done by the end of the year.

        Airport noise abatement manager Barb Schempf said local officials have been working with the FAA and its consultants on noise issues regarding the new runway throughout the process.

        “We're not anticipating any surprises or having to change our program at all,” Ms. Schempf said.

        Nick Funaro of Burlington, who lives near the western end of the east-west runway, said he plans to read the report.

        “They're always trying to put us on the border of the sound corridor, so I definitely want to see what the FAA says,” said Mr. Funaro.

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