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Santa Monica City Council Considers Grass for Shortened Airport Runway


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

September 29, 2017 -- The pulverized concrete left over from shortening Santa Monica Airport’s runway might be returned to its earliest roots as grass.

The City Council on Tuesday asked staff to study hydo-seeding, or planting grass, after removing pavement which will no longer be used when the runway is cut 1,500 feet in length -- or 750 feet from each end.

Construction begins October 9 and is scheduled to end December 30.
More than a century old, SMO started as a grassy landing strip back in the days of famous Barn Stormer's and Wing Walkers and WWI biplanes.

It is targeted for closure by the end of 2028 following decades of complaints about health hazards from neighbors in surrounding communities in Santa Monica and West Los Angeles.

The reduction of its nearly 5,000-foot long runway is expected to reduce jet traffic by 44 percent, City officials said ("Santa Monica City Council Approves Contract to Shorten Municipal Airport Runway," August 10, 2017).

Opponents of the airport question that estimate.

Matin Rubin, who heads Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP), says the group expects a drop in the number of large jets, but that many of their passengers will continue to fly in on smaller jets, offsetting the reduction.

Re-seeding the unused pavement was one of three options before the council.
Also considered was installing artificial turf or pulverizing, then stabilizing, the concrete and leaving it in place.

The runway shortening project will result in 736 feet of unusable pavement for aircraft operations at each end of the runway, a report to the council said.

Of the 736 feet, the first 300 feet adjacent to each runway end is required to be well-graded with no ruts, humps or surface depressions and capable of supporting Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) equipment.

Hydro-seeding would cost about $3.44 million, the report said. It would include removing the abandoned pavement, backfilling and hydro-seeding the graded surface.

An irrigation system is not included in the estimate but periodic water would be required to prevent dust from becoming an issue.

One risk, the report said, is that the grass might attract wildlife, “which is generally discouraged near airports.”


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