An inconsiderate neighbor

In Opinion
Courtesy of MCT


It seems that everyone dreads going to the airport. The traffic, the noise, the immense amount of people standing around waiting to catch their flights.

It’s all just so loud and stressful, but this is definitely a place of obligation.

Imagine having to deal with these all these frustrations day after day in your own backyard. For the residents of the neighborhoods surrounding Los Angeles International Airport, the loud whoosh of airplanes and the treacherous traffic are constants in their lives, alongside the ever-present brown cloud of smog above the skyline.

Even though this is just an average day near the runway tarmac, these problems may get worse. Recently the neighborhood has become disgruntled about the approved Environmental Impact Report for the LAX Specific Plan Amendment Study.

According to Dan Weikel of the Los Angeles Times, people in the area are concerned about increased pollution, noise and traffic.

I agree and sympathize. Many might say, “No one forced you to live by an airport,” and this may be true, but when looking at the facts, it can be determined that these changes are somewhat frivolous.

A press release by Los Angeles World Airports states that a study has evaluated prospective changes to the LAX Master Plan. These changes include new ground transportation facilities which will feature a people mover and rental car services, as well as a light rail and the moving and expanding of certain runways.

“The most controversial project is the 260-foot separation of the two northern runways to make room for a taxiway between them … proponents say the runway plan would increase safety and make it easier for the airport to manage the largest commercial jets, such as the giant Airbus A380,” wrote Weikel in his article.

Of course, those in favor suggest this is a safety issue, but based on research this is an excuse to bring in more dollars, more planes and more people.

Does LAX really need a people mover or light rail? Sure, it would be convenient, but convenience is not always necessary. My high school economics teacher used to always say, “there are only wants, not needs,” and convenience does not constitute need.

This appears to be the case in this particular situation.

From the perspective of LAX, however, I can understand the desire for luxury and ease in a place that is so exhausting. Conveniences would make the airport a little less horrible for those actually using it, but for those stuck next to it every day, the changes would make life a lot more difficult and that is a big problem.

As for the runway plan, a study by NASA Ames Research Center debunked the belief that LAX needs safer runways. In fact, according to Weikel’s article, the current northern runway complex is considered safe by NASA Ames’ standard. This means the $750-million separation of the runways would be somewhat pointless.

But let us play devil’s advocate and say NASA was wrong. Other alternatives could still be explored before jumping into such an expensive project and if not that, LAX could at least nix the plans for the expensive transportation services. This could possibly cut back on the spending and prevent the major traffic congestion, pollution and noise that homeowners are worried about.

According to an article by Scott Weber for NBC Los Angeles, the Federal Aviation Administration supports the claim that the northern runways are unsafe.

“A federal report two years ago said LAX had more close calls between planes on the ground than any other U.S. airport,” said Weber in his article. Unlike the FAA study, NASA’s study on the runways’ safety was done fairly recently.

All in all, it would be best if LAX did not go through with these changes. The economic climate and surrounding neighborhoods’ disapproval are reason enough to skip these big renovations.

Frivolous spending at this time is not the right choice.

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