Friday, June 25, 2004

Airport ahead of growth, FAA reports

New runway should do through 2020

By James Pilcher
Enquirer staff writer

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is one of a few major national airports that will not need to expand - if the current runway project is finished as scheduled - a federal report issued Thursday says.

The report, released by the Federal Aviation Administration, says that five of the nation's 35 busiest airports need an immediate capacity improvement to handle passenger and cargo growth.

Another 11 will need some sort of expansion by 2013 to meet demand, the FAA says.

But the report says the local airport should meet passenger demand in 2020 if the ongoing $252.6 million runway project is completed on schedule.

The airport is in the midst of constructing a fourth runway, an 8,000-foot north-south strip, along with a 2,000-foot extension to the western end of the east-west runway.

The extension is scheduled to open by the end of this year, while the new runway is set to open by next December.

"Investing in airports today means jobs and economic prosperity for tomorrow," said Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta. "Let this report be a wake-up call to cities across America whose economies are taking off."

He said Cincinnati, Atlanta and Minneapolis are already adding capacity to prepare for passenger growth.

Airport aviation director Bob Holscher said he hoped the new runway would handle increasing traffic.

"We know we're in very rare company," said Holscher, referring to the number of runways built here recently. "We're not to the point of looking at what could be needed next ... although we could run into a problem on our east-west runways."


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