West Provo residents oppose airport expansion plans

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    By MATT LEMMON

    Residents of West Provo continue to speak out against expansion of the Provo Airport during ongoing discussion of the airport master plan.

    During a question-and-answer session Jan. 27, City Chief Administrative Officer Bob Stockwell told about 60 upset residents that airport expansion is in the interest of the community, and all of Provo must work together on this issue.

    “We are you and you are us,” he told them, but residents responded with groans of protest.

    Residents from the west side of the freeway said they feel divided from the rest of the city, especially on the issue of airport expansion.

    “The whole west side neighborhood seems to be invisible to the entire airport board,” said Anita Reid, chair of the Provo Bay Neighborhood. Her comment was endorsed by applause from the other residents.

    “There’s not one person on that side of the freeway that wants that freeway expansion,” said Jackie Hinckley, a West Provo resident.

    Margaret Rasmussen, the Fort Utah Neighborhood Chair, said people from West Provo are “tired of being the ones who sacrifice for the betterment of the city.”

    Residents are upset because much of the land surrounding the airport is being proposed for re-zoning, according to John Hinckley, a West Provo dairy farmer. He said this re-zoning could cause residents’ land to lose value.

    Residents also expressed concerns about airport noise and added congestion on the already-crowded Center Street.

    Stockwell said plans are being made to add an airport access road to meet the demands of increased traffic, but the city isn’t ready to draw a line on a map showing where that road will be, as it is still in the planning stages, he said.

    Residents also wanted to know where that road will be, and how long it will take to construct.

    Residents voiced complaints about not being informed well enough about public airport expansion meetings. Airport Manager Steve Gleason responded with an offer to personally call everyone who attended the meeting to inform them of upcoming planning sessions.

    Jim Sirhall, of the Airport Development Group, presented the airport expansion plans. Short-term plans include the strengthening of the main runway and the building of a new parallel runway, he said.

    Long-term plans include the addition of a new 16-gate passenger terminal and lengthening of the main runway, he said.

    Sirhall said airport expansion will initially accommodate air cargo and executive passenger services.

    Fred Davis, of Tri-Star Marketing, estimated the potential demand for passengers at the Provo Airport to be between 440,000 and 840,000 passengers per year.

    The Provo airport will serve a regional market, he said, with flights going to San Jose, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle and Denver.

    Sirhall said he estimates the airport will increase from its current level of about 100,000 flights per year to 175,000 flights per year by 2020.

    That activity should generate about $90 million per year for the local economy, according to Davis’ estimates.

    The next step in expansion plans will be to request approval from city council, Gleason said.

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