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Monday, April 04, 2005 | Elie A. Shneour’s column last week about locating a regional airport between San Diego and Los Angeles generated a number of reader e-mails and questions. In this column, he tries to answer some of the questions.

There appears to be considerable interest and concern in and around San Diego about our airport situation. My two recent articles on the subject, published by The San Diego Union-Tribune and by Voice of San Diego, have generated a large amount of favorable responses by e-mail and by telephone. In these articles, I have suggested one major international airport for both Los Angeles and San Diego in between these two cities would make the most sense. However, a few of you wonder whether I have a secret agenda directed at an eventual takeover of Camp Pendleton for that purpose. Nothing of the sort! Camp Pendleton has been and should remain an important military base and a buffer against any kind of civilian encroachment. We should all be grateful for its protective existence.

What I have in mind is a major international airport built eastward away from the coastal fog belt. It should be serviced by high-speed frequent ground rail transportation from both San Diego and Los Angeles. It turns out that both San Diego and Los Angeles need a new international airport. San Diego, however, cannot sustain one such airport on its own for the foreseeable future. This was made abundantly evident by the establishment and the subsequent cancellation of a British Airways slot at Lindbergh Field. But the idea of eventually building two major airports about 125 miles apart makes no economic sense. We should certainly keep and expand Lindbergh Field as an important regional airport. But that is not nearly enough for the longer term.

Let us assume that San Diego and Los Angeles leaders were diligent enough to consider such a major Southern California International Airport. The next question is where could such an airport be physically located? I have extensively visited and flown over the region up to a hundred miles east between Oceanside and Dana Point. There are a number of possibilities around that region, all of them with difficult access and use for a major airport. But that has been the case for all the potential locations studied by numerous Los Angeles- and San Diego-based committees for their own respective airports. There are no easy solutions, but there are far better solutions for one airport than for two of them. We really ought to examine that possibility in earnest.

Dr. Elie A. Shneour, a native of France and WWII U.S. veteran, is president of Biosystems Institutes, Inc. and Research Director of Biosystems Research Institute of San Diego.

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