TRANSPORTATION, TREASURY, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, THE JUDICIARY, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - June 30, 2005)
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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, as we consider the FY06 Transportation, Treasury, HOD, Judiciary, and District of Columbia Appropriations Act today, I would like to take this opportunity to express my opposition to the proposed Runway 17-35 expansion at the Philadelphia International Airport. Over the past several months, I have strongly urged the FAA to investigate and pursue the construction of a new parallel runway, rather than continuing with its endorsement of Build Alternative 1, which is an ineffective use of taxpayer dollars.
The information presented in the final Environmental Impact Statement, EIS, indicates that there will be minimal gains in airport efficiency with the extension of Runway 17-35. The projected average delay per operation in 2007 is 15.3 minutes under the No-Action Alternative. The EIS indicated that Alternative 1 would cost the taxpayers approximately $36 million, yet would only result in an 84-second delay reduction. While this alternative purports a slightly greater reduction in the 2015 projected delays, the EIS indicated only a 6.5-minute delay reduction, which is less than the 7.5-minute delay reduction that was projected in the Draft EIS, DEIS. I think it would be a much better use of taxpayer funds to evaluate the potential installation of a new parallel runway rather than extending Runway 17-35; it makes no sense to spend $36 million with no real ensuing benefits. The FAA still has not released the underlying data used to calculate projected delay reductions.
It greatly concerns me that the FAA has indicated that it does not have data indicating what percentage of delays at the Philadelphia International Airport are a direct result of airport runway problems, as opposed to other causes. Common sense would indicate that this information is necessary in order to determine that the proposed runway extension would be effective in increasing airport efficiency, particularly when the projected delay reduction achieved by this project was decreased by more than 13 percent between the time the DEIS was issued on October 15, 2004, and the issuance of the EIS on March 11, 2005.
The Record of Decision, ROD, indicates that Alternative 1 will have no significant noise impacts on the surrounding communities, which defies logic. The proposed runway extension would allow more and larger aircraft to utilize the runway, and common sense dictates that this would result in a substantial appreciation in noise levels for the southern New Jersey communities within the flight paths and directly across the Delaware River from the Philadelphia International Airport.
Again, I strongly urge the FAA to explore a parallel runway option so that all interested parties can evaluate the relevant facts and form a judgment on the potential benefit a new parallel runway would have to the entire Philadelphia region.
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