John Wayne Airport improvements OKd

May 23, 2001

Paul Clinton

JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT -- Taxiway improvements were a no-brainer Tuesday

to county Supervisor Tom Wilson, who joined fellow board members in

unanimously approving $9.4 million worth of work at the airport.

"It's making sure John Wayne remains a top-notch, first-class

airport," Wilson said. "I just want us to keep a focus on John Wayne and

the quality of the airport."


Airport Director Alan Murphy proposed that four related projects be

completed in the next two years. The work would cover improvements to two

taxiways, the airport's inner perimeter road and upgrades to the security

system inside Thomas F. Riley Terminal.

The improvements are to be funded mostly with a federal grant. The

board allocated $1.6 million for this year to help secure that federal


"This grant will help us improve airport conditions," said airport

spokeswoman Yolanda Perez. "Some of those elements are definitely to

create a safer environment."

Airport crews plan to resurface Taxiway Echo, a high-speed exit

taxiway that gets heavy use from commercial flights. If the project is

approved, bids will go out in July. If all goes as planned, the project

should be completed by spring 2003.

The 600-foot taxiway would be shut down while the work is underway.

Commercial flights would be sent to the south end of the 5,700-foot

commercial runway for takeoff. The project is expected to cost $980,000.

Airport officials also hope to reconfigure Taxiway Gulf and Taxiway

Hotel. The Y-shaped roadways, used chiefly by general aviation planes to

reach the runway, would be combined into one road. The two roads have

tended to confuse pilots of private jets heading to the 2,887-foot

general aviation runway for takeoff, Perez said.

That project, expected to cost $5.2 million, is expected to go to bid

in July. Construction should begin in October and wrap up by spring 2002.

A revamp of the airport's 1.5-mile perimeter road, which loops inside

the perimeter fence, also is planned. The Board of Supervisors will

consider the first of two phases of the project, from about Paularino

Avenue to the Corona del Mar Freeway. Bids are expected to go out in

July, and the $400,000 project should be completed by December 2002.

The closed-circuit television sets and identification-card readers

inside the terminal also would be upgraded at an expected cost of $3


The airport plans to apply to the Federal Aviation Administration for

a $6.77-million grant to pay for the bulk of the improvements. The county

would have to come up with the remaining $2.63 million, with final

numbers on the costs still to be determined.

Wilson, whose district includes Newport Beach, said he was happy to

approve the funding but also warned county planners hoping to build an

airport at the closed El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

In the airport's 2001 business plan, released in early March, Murphy

warned that the county's raids on airport revenue -- $34.8 million since

1995 -- will take their toll.

"As the county continues to drain the monies out of John Wayne for El

Toro planning, that money might be hard to come by," Wilson said.

In other action Tuesday, supervisors unanimously approved an

environmental review of Newport Beach's proposed extension of the 1985

airport settlement agreement.

The city has proposed increasing the cap on annual passengers and

flights in exchange for a 20-year extension of the nighttime curfew.

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