Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pols discuss airport expansion plan

Philadelphia and Delaware County officials discussed the benefits of Philadelphia International Airport’s proposed capacity expansion plan during a news conference at the airport Wednesday evening.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was joined by U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, and U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9, of Blair County. Delaware County Councilman John McBlain also attended the event along with Tinicum Commissioner Pat Barr and township Manager David Schreiber.

Meehan said bringing Shuster, the new chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to the airport is an important step in moving this project forward. Meehan is a member of the transportation committee.

Nutter, a Democrat, discussed the importance of the airport to the region. He said the airport currently employs about 141,000 people and the expansion project would create additional good-paying jobs.

Nutter said a new lease agreement sends a strong message about officials’ dedication to the proposed airport expansion plan. Last week, US Airways and city officials announced agreement on a two-year lease extension from the airport that runs through June 30, 2015 and includes an approach regarding the capacity enhancement program. The agreement between the city and the airline will allow for about $734 million in new capital investments at the airport, officials said.

Nutter presented an alternative plan in December for the airport expansion that would save the Tinicum homes previously identified for demolition and relocate the UPS terminal, potentially reducing the noise impact.

One of the benefits of the plan, Meehan said, is that it would reduce the long waits people experience in security lines at the airport. In addition, the expansion project would generate more jobs.

“I think the mayor hit the nail on the head,” he said. ‘It’s the jobs. This will create thousands of jobs.”

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