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Thursday, Aug 11, 2022
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Airport

Two recent court rulings have put Burbank Airport’s long-awaited new terminal back on track, although appeals could still derail the process. As a result of the recent court victories, airport officials now can begin developing concrete terminal plans and believe groundbreaking on a new terminal could begin in about two years. “It means we can go forward as we expected we could,” said Richard Simon, an attorney for the Airport Authority. “If we had not won, it would have definitely delayed the project.” Last month, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal environmental impact statement on the terminal expansion was adequate. That followed a February ruling by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge that said the city of Burbank can’t block the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority from buying a 130-acre parcel for the new terminal. The city of Burbank, which opposes the size of the new terminal even though it is also a member of the Airport Authority, must now decide whether to appeal the suits or try to negotiate a downsized terminal. Burbank officials believe the larger terminal will lead to more flights and noise at the facility, and are weighing their next step. “The council will do whatever it takes to get the citizens heard,” said Burbank City Attorney Dennis Barlow. “I don’t think the city’s effort to try and come to some equitable solution is unreasonable.” Under the environmental impact statement, the planned terminal could increase the number of gates from the current 14 to as many as 27. In the wake of the recent court rulings, the Airport Authority is continuing negotiations with Lockheed Martin Corp. to acquire the land, which was formerly used for aircraft construction. San Fernando Valley business leaders say they are hopeful remaining roadblocks can be cleared quickly. “We (taxpayers) have spent millions of dollars fighting something that is inevitable,” said Robert Meyler, president of the United Chambers of Commerce of the San Fernando Valley. “All of the businesses in the Valley have been affected by the lack of transportation. It (the dispute) has had a major negative impact.” “Most of our executives live in the Valley corridor from Camarillo to Pasadena,” said Ric Hill, vice president of corporate relations for Woodland Hills-based 20th Century Insurance Co. “It’s an issue of time and money. If you have to drive more, then that is more time away from the office. The fact that they haven’t expanded (the airport) is an opportunity not realized.” Companies that service the airport would also like to see a speedier resolution to the dispute. “Everyone related to the airport will be beneficiaries of that growth,” said George Moulton, general manager of Super Shuttle Inc., an airport shuttle service. “If they expanded, conceivably it could double our growth. There is no question about it.” Burbank officials say they agree that a new terminal is needed, but want to ensure that the new facility does not make it possible for a huge expansion in operations. Among other things, the city wants assurances that commercial jet noise will be kept at tolerable levels. It also demands a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew on flights, as well as other guarantees limiting street congestion and air pollution. The airport has been a point of contention for the city for more than three decades.

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