Expansion of Lindbergh Field moves forward

The City Council Monday endorsed a $4 billion plan to revamp San Diego’s Lindbergh Field that would shift most of the passenger and transit services to the north side of the airport.

The project, which would be completed in three phases through 2030, would create a transit center along Pacific Highway that would link train, bus and trolley service to the airport and eventually high-speed rail.

It would include a new passenger terminal, parking lots, rental car hub and direct access to the airport from Interstate 5.

Ultimately, passengers would check in on the north side of Lindbergh Field, before boarding a subway or “people mover’’ that would transport them under the runway to the airport’s gates.

The proposal doesn’t envision a second runway at Lindbergh Field.

The City Council voted 6-2 to accept a report on the plan, coined “Destination Lindbergh,’' and forward it to the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority board for final adoption. Councilmembers Donna Frye and Kevin Faulconer cast the dissenting votes.

The council also voted 5-3 to work with the Airport Authority to seek state and federal funding for the project. Frye, Faulconer and Councilwoman Sherri Lightner were opposed to that component.

The proposal follows eight months of meetings by the Ad Hoc Airport Regional Policy Committee, which retained a Houston-based consulting firm to analyze possible improvements to Lindbergh Field.

The ad-hoc panel, which was chaired by Mayor Jerry Sanders, includes officials from the Airport Authority, San Diego Association of Governments, Port of San Diego, San Diego County, Metropolitan Transit System, North County Transit District and the U.S. Defense Department.

Before the vote, Sanders said the proposal would “dramatically change Lindbergh Field for the better.’'

Sanders testified that overhauling Lindbergh Field was necessary as the options for building a new international airport somewhere else in the county were “extremely limited.’'

“Until there is a viable site, we must do everything we can to make sure Lindbergh Field operates as smoothly as possible into the future,’' he said.

In 2006, San Diego voters rejected a proposal to move the airport to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Faulconer, who represents most of the neighborhoods around the airport, said he had “serious concerns’’ about infrastructure and financing for the project. He also said it does nothing to address Lindbergh Field’s fundamental problem -- inadequate runway space.

“This does not improve the capacity of Lindbergh Field,’' he said.

San Diego has the nation’s busiest single-runway airport. Lindbergh Field now serves about 18 million passengers, but will have to accommodate 28 million passengers by 2030, the consultants hired to analyze the airport told the City Council.

Alan Bersin, chairman of the Airport Authority, acknowledged “problems’’ with capacity due to the single runway. “We will have to supplement capacity at some point in the future,’'

Bersin said. However, he said “we need to keep Lindbergh Field viable and this plan is the best way to do that.’'

Sanders said last month that if all the parties approve the “Destination Lindbergh’’ concept, a working group will be established to consider design, engineering and financing.

The estimated $4 billion cost of the project could be financed through state and federal grants, rental car companies and the fees paid by passengers traveling out of Lindbergh Field.

For more information on the expansion: