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FAA Confirms City's Use of Airport Funds to Shorten Runway

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

October 22, 2019 -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Monday determined that Santa Monica can use aviation funds to remove the pavement left over after the airport runway was shortened.

The FAA's determination confirms the City's decision to use approximately $3,2 million from the special fund to shorten the runway and convert the excess pavement to hydroseed.

“This is good news that comes as we complete the removal of the excess pavement and hydroseed the areas that are no longer needed for the safe operation of aircraft to our now shortened runway,” said Mayor Gleam Davis.

“The FAA determination clearly states that we are working in accordance with the Consent Decree and FAA rules, and the shortened runway ensures safe and proper aviation use until the airport closes in 2029.”

The FAA's decision stemmed from a complaint filed jointly by the National Business Aviation Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

The three major aviation groups challenged the City's use of airport funds for the project.

Opponents of the project argued that converting the pavement to hydroseed was a waste of taxpayer money and would attract birds, increasing the chance of bird strikes.

They also argued that the gravel could be needed to extend the runway in the event an emergency requires larger aircraft carrying equipment to land.

In its determination issued Monday, the FAA said the “removal of the subject pavements, pavement pulverization and reuse, and the soil stabilization at SMO appear justified as an airport operating cost.”

It also stated that the airport "met all applicable standards prior to the pavement removal and the airfield remains compliant with all applicable standards following completion of the project.”

The runway was shortened in December 2017 from 5,000 to 3,500 feet to curb the escalating use of the airport by larger jets ("Santa Monica Airport Starts Ten-Day Closure to Aircraft for Runway Shortening," December 15, 2017).

Since then, jet aircraft operations have nosedived by about 80 percent ("Jet Departures at Santa Monica Airport Took Nosedive in 2018," January 11, 2019).

In April, the Council voted unanimously to authorize the City Manager to negotiate and execute $3.2 million in contracts to construct and maintain the hydroseeded area ("City to Remove Excess Pavement from Santa Monica Airport Runway," April 4, 2019).

In June, the City embarked on the project to convert both ends of the runway ("Santa Monica Airport Construction Project to Begin This Month," June 11, 2019).

The Excess Pavement Removal Project is scheduled to be completed by November 8.

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