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Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007 | Let the arrows and spitballs fly! Here are my ideas regarding the future of Lindbergh Field:
As a City Council candidate in 2005, citizens and voters often asked me for my ideas about the future of Lindbergh and/or an alternative airport to serve the future needs of the San Diego area. I was brazen enough to think that, with Lindbergh eventually “maxing out,” we ought to consider using a military airfield as a replacement; no, not Miramar, but North Island Naval Air Station.
Using North Island would allow San Diegans to retain a close-in, central airport, which we all cherish. And the larger size and longer runway at North Island would give us the truly “international” airport we want, by being able to accommodate 747s and other long haul, jumbo jets. My thought was that the displaced aircraft carriers and other ships would move to the 32nd Street station. The military jets and aircraft would be moved to a combination of sites, including Miramar, Yuma and elsewhere.
But, we have since learned that the military has no intention whatsoever of leaving any of their bases in this area, to allow for civilian use. And a recent study shows how critical the military is to our local economy. I knew that before, in general terms, but I now concede the point: the military should not go anywhere.
That means that, unless we want to spend an hour riding a train each way to the desert in Imperial County, our focus must return to optimizing Lindbergh Field.
Consequently, I support the following improvements to Lindbergh:
1. Move all air terminals and car rental facilities to the eastern side of the airport. (There’s certainly room on the east side of the field. Have you seen the hundreds of new cars that are stored there prior to being shipped out to the auto dealerships?) This location, next to I-5 and Pacific Highway, would allow transportation in and out of the airport to be centralized on one side of Lindbergh. And move the trolley and railroad tracks — or install a spur — next to the airport. This would encourage more passengers to take public transportation to the airport, reducing the need for expansive parking lots next to Lindbergh.
2. Move Harbor Drive westward and reduce it to a single, one-way service road to allow westward expansion of Lindbergh Field. Combined with moving the air terminals and car rental operations eastward, this would make room for an additional runway or taxiway.
3. Finally (sorry, military), shut down and move the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) to permit additional expansion of operations at Lindbergh. Can any Marine commander or official tell us, with a straight face, that MCRD is the ideal location for a training facility, with all of the jet noise and safety considerations that come with being situated next to a busy airfield?
That is my “two cents” regarding the future of Lindbergh. Any takers?