Proposals for expanding Philadelphia International Airport have been steeped in controversy — fueled by outrage that dozens of homes in Tinicum Township would be bulldozed to make way.
Now Philadelphia is floating an alternative plan.
The goal is to give the airport an opportunity to grow while protecting the community, says Mark Gale, airport CEO.
“The plan moves the UPS (terminal) much further away — so we’re talking about going 1,000 feet or so in distance to the community to over 4,000 feet away — or almost close to a mile from the community,” he said. “And the plan also calls for the community to stay intact.” But State Rep. Nick Miccarelli of Delaware County said he remains concerned.
“The homes may not be directly demolished, but it’s our understanding that the decibel levels that would be caused by cargo jet traffic would almost make the homes unlivable,” he said.
While Miccarelli, a Republican, said he agrees changes are needed at the airport, he says the plan would have been different from the start if the city didn’t run the airport.
“Many airports in the United States are run by an authority. Here, it’s run by the city’s department of aviation,” he said. “We’re in talks right now in the state House and the state Senate and locally about creating a regional airport authority that would operate in a similar way to SEPTA.”
Miccarelli said having a regional authority, that would incorporate some representation from Delaware County, would be the best way to proceed.
U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan said he’s pleased the new plan shows no homes would be taken.
“The city believes that by moving the heavy air traffic … the plan is less inclined to create airplane noise because the jets that are associated with UPS are moved farther away from Tinicum and closer to the existing terminal,” said the Republican congressman from Delaware County.
Meehan said it will be important to look at the ultimate sound issues, but the city appears to be doing everything possible to address them.