Reporting Heather Brown
EDINA, Minn. (WCCO) – People who live near the airport aren’t happy with plans to change air traffic routes. And they made it clear at a public meeting on Monday.
It was a standing room only crowd Monday afternoon at Metropolitan Airports Commission. People who live in south Minneapolis and Edina are asking MAC to delay changes.
Currently, there are about 440 flights that fly over Edina. Under this new plan, there would be just 308 – but neighborhoods near 50th Street and France Avenue would see a dramatic increase of up to 150 percent.
It was such a packed house that even Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was lucky to find a seat.
“I’ve never experiences anything like this in my 16 years at MAC,” Rybak said.
The mayor’s surprise was echoed by MAC chairman Dan Boivin.
“Unprecedented. I’ve been on the commission since 2002, and we’ve never had a meeting like this. And I really credit social media. All the neighborhoods are connected by emails,” Boivin said.
Essentially, the new spread out paths would be concentrated into what’s been called “Superhighways in the Sky.” One path would cross southwest Minneapolis and into Edina, the second along Highway 62 – where Kathryn Zuspran lives.
“You’re flying over my house, my daughters’ schools. This needs to be considered residential,” Zuspran said.
It’s a project that’s been considered by the FAA and MAC since 2010. The new patterns would be required because of a technology upgrade that Dennis Roberts of the FAA says would save fuel and make air traffic control safer.
“It’s repeatable, predictable, constantly monitoring,” Roberts said.
People at Monday’s meeting were angry, saying they weren’t aware of the proposal until news reports from this week. This is despite some open houses held in the last month.
Minneapolis resident Steve Kittleson says most people are in the dark.
“We had about 3,600 people say they had no idea what was going on,” Kittleson said.
For some parts of Minneapolis and Edina, it would mean more flights over their homes.
“Let’s do the right thing and delay this decision,” Rybak said.
But according to Richfield City Council member Tom Fitzhenry, the plan would mean fewer flights in an area that currently deals with plenty of airport noise.
“It saves the citizens of Richfield heartache for the next two years,” Fitzhenry said.
Chairman Boivin says the decision is ultimately up to the FAA.
“We’ve had a number of conversations with the FAA in the last week, and we’re getting a lot of mixed signals. And hopefully if we are still getting mixed signals, we’re going to have our Senators and Congressmen to help,” Boivin said.