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Runway Expansion Proposed

Two additional runways proposed for Dulles.

The Federal Aviation Association held a meeting last week to generate resident discussion and hear possible concerns surrounding the proposed expansion of Washington Dulles International Airport.

In mid-January the FAA released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) detailing Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's proposal to add two runways and conduct additional improvements at Dulles Airport.

In the plan, MWAA proposes to construct an additional north-south and east-west runway, parallel and connector taxi ways, concourse developments and navigational aids.

The main concern to Herndon residents is the expansion of the runways and increased air traffic.

"The new arrival and departure flight paths will bring more air traffic flying over Herndon when these runways do open," said Herndon resident Charlie Waddell in an e-mail after attending the Feb. 23 meeting.

Mayor Michael O'Reilly said before the FAA's Feb. 23 meeting, the town would not be impacted by the proposed expansion because the alteration of current flight paths were not proposed.

"It was my understanding that there would be little if any impact on the town," O'Reilly said Feb. 28. "But, apparently there could be some impact."

AFTER HEARING from Waddell and speaking with staff to learn more about the proposal, O'Reilly said the issue may be more immediate than previously thought.

"Staff is already looking at the proposals," he said, adding once finished staff will submit a draft for his review and possibly Town Council's review.

"It is my understanding that the town has a representative through [Fairfax County] ... to monitor the progress," he said.

Although FAA created a master development plan in 1985 when they first operated Dulles, by 1987 they leased the airport to MWAA, transferring responsibility and the plans were altered as the aviation industry evolved.

MWAA said the evolved recommended projects in the master plan study, if constructed, will enable Dulles Airport to "safely and efficiently accommodate existing and future levels of aviation operational demand."

Waddell said although the proposed expansion is positive for air travel through Dulles Airport, because there is no noise abatement plan in place for Dulles, he is worried the increased air travel will impact the quality of life in Herndon.

"I live just behind the Herndon Community Center and on certain nights and at certain times on weekends I can distinctly hear the jet engines revving up," he said in an e-mail. "It disturbs me. Other friends in town ... also have had similar experiences and share my sentiment."

O'Reilly said since learning the latest information, town staff would communicate with the county representative and follow the issues closely.

"We are looking into if there is a need for Town Council to make a statement," he said.

A complete copy of the DEIS is posted at the MWAA Web site: www.mwaa.com/dulles/EnvironmentalStudies/RunwayEIS.htm.

Written comments will be accepted until March 7, and can be sent to project manager Brad Mehaffy, FAA, Washington Airports District Office 23723 Air Freight Lane, Suite 210, Dulles, VA 20166.