Thursday, July 23, 2009

Runway closure will shift jet noise at Nashville airport

By Christina E. Sanchez • THE TENNESSEAN • July 23, 2009 Some neighborhoods around the Nashville International Airport will have more air traffic over their homes and businesses during the next year when a major construction project shuts down one runway. The airport's oldest of four runways will be closed from Aug. 3 to July 2010 for a $24 million reconstruction project. The 32-year-old runway has reached its lifespan and needs to be updated. It is the westernmost runway and runs north-to-south from Interstate 40 to Murfreesboro Pike. That means during the closure, the 15,000 aircraft that use the airport each month will be spread among the three remaining runways. The runways used will depend on flight patterns or weather conditions. Airport officials do not expect any inconveniences for air travelers but residents living near the airport may notice the change. "Closing a runway doesn't reduce the level of aircraft," said Raul Regalado, president and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority. "When we put a runway out of use, it means a shift in activity to the remaining runways. It will probably generate some concern from the public because there will be increased overflights in some areas." The oldest runway, which is 7,703 feet long and 150 feet wide, was previously repaired in the 1970s. It is a primary runway for much of the airport's air cargo traffic. Regalado said the goal of the reconstruction project is to increase the safety for the passengers and aircraft that use the runway. The project will employ about 300 workers. The project will be paid for with 57 percent federal funds, 12.5 percent state funds and 30.5 percent passenger facility charges. Airports charge up to $4.50 per passenger, which can be applied to projects approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. It shows up as a fee when passengers buy airfare. Airport officials asked for patience and understanding during the construction. "We may get some calls about it, but it is an issue we will all have to deal with," said James Cheek III, chairman of the Airport Authority Board of Commissioners.

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