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"Joint-use airport at San Diego base could work, report says"
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Joint-use airport at Miramar could work, report says
By Jeff Ristine
The San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune
SAN DIEGO - A joint-use airport at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station could be
developed without "unacceptable interference" to the military mission,
defense readiness or passenger safety, a consulting team stated in a
definitive report on the region's airport options.
The 102-page "Decision Document," to be used by the San Diego County
Regional Airport Authority in its scheduled June 5 decision on a site for a
new airport, says military facilities and training areas can be relocated
within the existing boundaries of the Marine Corps' 23,000-acre station to
accommodate a joint-use facility.
In the closing months of its analysis, the airport authority and its
consultant have focused on five options to replace Lindbergh Field in the
future: sharing air facilities with the military at Miramar, the Camp
Pendleton Marine Base and the North Island Naval Air Station; and two
civilian locations in East County's Boulevard and the Yuha desert of
southwestern Imperial County.
The airport authority took control of San Diego International Airport three
years ago from the San Diego Unified Port District and was given control of
planning for the region's future air transport needs.
The authority has set the June deadline to select a site for a new airport;
the site is to be submitted to a public vote in November. The costs of an
airport at Miramar would be about $6 billion, not including as much as $1.7
billion in environmental mitigation, according to the analysis. That would
make the Miramar scenario cheaper than any other option before the airport
board except the proposed joint use of North Island, a concept in which
Lindbergh Field would remain in operation.
Airport Authority officials have said they would consider paying all direct
costs associated with a joint-use concept.
The military, however, is unwavering in its opposition to the idea. Navy
secretary Donald Winter pointedly told a group of San Diego military and
civic leaders recently that his service would never agree to shared usage of
its air bases in the San Diego area.
That view has been bolstered by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, who recently
added a provision in a $513 billion defense spending bill to prohibit
civilian air operations at Miramar, Camp Pendleton or North Island.
Nonetheless, without recommending Miramar or any other site, the comparative
analysis, prepared by the airport agency's Ricondo & Associates consulting
team, outlines a scenario in which the analysts believe joint use could
The report acknowledges some helicopter training on the base would have to
be moved. Carrier landing practice would have to be conducted on one of the
two new civilian runways, with some civilian departures at the same time
moved to a military runway.
And the report says a weapons storage area also may have to be relocated.
The proposed Miramar concept calls for a 10,000-foot runway and a
12,000-foot runway south of the base's existing airfield. Segments of
Interstate 15, state Route 163 and Kearny Villa Road north of state Route 52
would have to be pushed east to make room for landings.
Ideally, the consultants said, Miramar Road would be widened to a six- or
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