MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – What was intended to be an informational community meeting quickly turned into a passionate debate Thursday night.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission, or MAC, revealed expansion plans for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. And the group acknowledged there will be a lot more flights in the next couple decades.
MSP is the nation’s 13th largest airport, and it’s growing rapidly.
MAC shared the airport’s long-term plan Thursday night in front of a crowd of community members and leaders.
“We want to make sure that we are providing adequate facilities here at the airport so we can provide a level of service that we can all be proud of in Minnesota,” said Chad Leqve, director of environment for MAC.
MAC estimates 54 million passengers passing through annually by 2035, nearly twice as many passengers as there were last year. That means more landings, takeoffs, and noise.
“It’s really loud and there’s a lot more planes,” said Steve Kittleson of MSP FairSkies Coalition.
Residents expressed disappointment and frustration in the plan.
“I was at a meeting recently and a woman began crying because she couldn’t put her kids to sleep,” said one South Minneapolis woman.
Community advocates said they feel the airport is expanding beyond capacity.
“You’re talking about noise impact in terms of straight decibels,” said another community member. “That’s not noise impact. Noise impact is also frequency.”
Kittleson said the issue affects everyone.
“It’s hard to stay outside at night or in the morning,” he said. “It impacts the quality of life, not only at home, but in our community, parks and around the lakes.”
The community says the MAC has been a great partner, but there’s more to be done.
“We hope they take a pause right now at the expansion while they look at alternatives,” Kittleson said. “Be creative.”
A plan will be published in September, and the community can again weigh in during two public meetings in October. Once the plan is approved, it will need an environmental evaluation and board approval.