Saturday, June 21, 2008

Funding airport expansion at the dawn of peak oil: looking reality in the eye and denying it

Thanks to a transportation watcher, you can see a table showing that the folks deep in denial gave a much higher priority (6th in the region) to "improved baggage processing" and "expanded passenger drop-off/pick-up areas" and "additional parking" at Salem's airport than they did to helping Cherriots serve Salem (23rd).

In other words, our transportation experts believe that, as we are on the cusp of peak oil, we should pour more money into amenities that will be completely worthless when scheduled service stops, which it will inevitably do soon. Not to mention the even greater sum to be squandered on expanding a runway.

Funny how, when people are complaining about all the traffic, this sort of thing is never mentioned as a giveaway to airlines or a subsidy.

City of Salem - McNary Field
Passenger Terminal Expansion –
Salem’s airport activity has picked up with the addition of daily passenger service. This project will expand the terminal waiting area to allow improved baggage processing, additional restrooms, expanded passenger drop-off/pick-up areas and additional parking.
$ 1,200,000
Lane Transit District and City of Veneta
Veneta Transit Center – Eugene –
A new Veneta Transit Center will stimulate economic activity, reduce congestion on busy Oregon 126 and offer residents more options for commuting. It includes an enhanced Park and Ride facility in the city’s growing downtown area.
$ 656,000
Albany and Eastern RR
Mill City Branch Bridge Rehab and 286k Rail Upgrade –
Bridges on the critical “Mill City Branch” will be rehabilitated in this project, supporting several key industries and improving safety along the line. The new bridges will better accommodate today’s heavy rail loads and enhance the area’s economic appeal to businesses.
$ 3,777,280
City of Newport-Port of Astoria
Coastal Oregon Air Service –
Scheduled passenger air service, funded through this project, will provide important connections from two major coastal communities to the Portland International Airport. It will reduce travel time and costs for people needing to get to and from Oregon’s northern and central coast.
$ 3,600,000
Salem-Keizer Transit District
Keizer Transit Ctr. –
This project will create the Keizer Transit Center, a new facility designed to improve connections, provide options and reduce congestion, with parking spaces, bike facilities, room for eight buses, a pedestrian plaza and more.
$ 2,516,000
City of Salem / McNary Field
Runway / Safety Area Extension - McNary Field –
This project will extend the primary runway/safety area for aircraft by up to 1000 feet. As growth continues at the facility, runway extensions give a greater margin of aircraft safety and growth capacity and make the airport a more viable option for travelers and businesses.
$ 2,600,000

Insanity: Lottery dollars to fund airport upgrades

Both the source of the money (gambling, mostly by those who can least afford it) and the use of it (pouring money into an airport to attract bigger jets just as the days of mass travel by air are ending) are equally productive. This is truly the perfect illustration of the fantastic depth of the local leadership's state of denial. Oil is $140 a barrel and will likely hit $200 soon -- and never see $80 again -- and we're planning for more aviation -- even as our bike infrastructure is woeful and our local bus system doesn't offer Sunday service and has 1-hour gaps between buses on most routes.

Lottery dollars will help pay for $4.75 million worth of improvements at Salem Municipal Airport, including a longer runway and a larger terminal that could position the airport to attract more passenger flights, city officials said Friday.

Salem's airport has received a grant from the Connect Oregon II program, which provides money for transportation projects other than highways. The Oregon Transportation Commission met Friday in Enterprise and approved grants for the Salem airport and 29 other projects across the state.
. . .

"For us to ever grow and get another airline, we've got to have more terminal space," Alexander said.

. . .

Salem's 5,800-foot runway is the shortest in the state that receives commercial jet service, Alexander said. The airport's master plan has called for extending the runway up to 1,000 feet on its south end.

. . .

1. Runway extension, $3.25M -- Connect Oregon II funds: $2.60 million
Matching funds: $650,000 ($617,500 from federal funds and $32,500 from local sources)

2. Passenger terminal expansion, $1.5M -- Connect Oregon II funds: $1.20 million
Matching funds: $300,000 ($285,000 from federal funds and $15,000 from local sources)