Policy May Force Miami International Airport To Stay Put
Written by Risa Polansky on November 22, 2007
By Risa Polansky
Miami-Dade County is considering a formal policy vote to not expand Miami International Airport westward or even acquire more land to the west for future use.
"We want to keep a grip on everything we’re doing at the airport," said Commissioner José "Pepe" Diaz, the measure’s sponsor.
His resolution would ensure the "focus stays on what we have and how to improve it and how to make it more efficient."
Expanding the airport west in the short term is "so far out of reach," he said. "There are a lot of costs involved."
Why grab up and sit on land the airport can’t use now, he said, just to speculate "20 to 30 years ahead" when it may be ready to grow.
Because "there’s a lot of doughnuts" on the maps now, Mr. Diaz said, "I’d rather have the cities" fill in the holes by annexing the land, with the caveat that municipalities are "going to have to respect the future."
The resolution "leaves us a little loophole," he said, in clarifying that "it is not in the best interests of the county or the airport system for MIA to expand its present boundaries that lie on the western side of MIA other than as may be specifically approved in the future by this board."
"This resolution would not hamper the ability to expand westward," Max Fajardo, deputy aviation director, said by e-mail. Though "our strategic master plan report called for the airport to expand westward in the future," he wrote, "we currently do not have the funding or the immediate plans to start any expansion."
Officials say financing the airport’s $6.2 billion capital improvement program, $1 billion over budget, is increasing the cost of doing business there.
"We still retain the future growth of that airport," Mr. Diaz said. But now, "we need to focus on what we need to do."