Tuesday, April 11, 2006 | Until now, most questions asked of San Diego County Regional Airport Authority members and airport officials about what would happen after Nov. 7 – the day voters will approve or reject a new airport site – have been answered with a mixture of optimism and uncertainty.

They’ve largely steered clear of addressing what would happen if the ballot initiative fails. But board members addressed the issue head-on yesterday, saying they need to understand the costs of staying at Lindbergh Field – though they haven’t resolved how to get those figures.

The airport authority is tasked with finding an alternative to Lindbergh Field for voters to consider in November. They’re in the midst of the process, hopeful of making a decision on a site in May. The ballot language is due in August.

Although they’re focused on finding a new site, board member William D. Lynch said the authority needs to know what the impact of 8 million more passengers will have on surrounding roads if Lindbergh never moves.

“I think it’s a question that has to be addressed,” Lynch said. “… What kind of dollars does it take? We should know that.”

The airport authority has developed a $1 billion master plan that would add 10 gates, aircraft parking and a new parking deck to serve Terminal 2 to address capacity issues expected by 2015, regardless of what voters decide in November. It is currently awaiting its complex environmental impact review.

Beyond 2015, though, the authority expects a new home for Lindbergh Field to be available. Board member Paul A. Peterson said if voters reject the idea, the authority needs to develop what he dubbed “Phase II.”

“It is an alterative that has a probability,” board member Paul G. Nieto said. “It would be nice for us to fully appreciate what the costs to remain here are.”

Board member Xema Jacobson suggested it may be worthwhile to investigate the cost of turning Harbor Drive into a double-decker road. Such analysis has not yet been done.

But whether to include the adjacent Marine Corps Recruit Depot in the analysis could be a sticking point. Peterson said the authority shouldn’t include the neighboring Marine base. Board member Mary Teresa Sessom disagreed.

“We’ve spent almost $3 million looking at joint-use concepts the military says won’t work,” Sessom said. “Why not look at MCRD? I think if we’re going to face this problem square on, we need to give all sites equal consideration – including Lindbergh.”

The authority will get input at its April 24 meeting on one concept using MCRD land to expand Lindbergh Field. The idea, dubbed Concept F, was once estimated to cost $1 billion, displace several businesses and impact the Naval Training Center’s redevelopment by building a V-shaped runway at Lindbergh.

The authority committee didn’t come to a resolution on Lindbergh planning, but the discussion will continue at the April 24 meeting. A presentation made then will detail such things as land costs, impacts on surrounding homes and businesses and any terrain or airspace issues.

Please contact Rob Davis directly at

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