Hat tip to AL for sending this along, from the nctimes.com:

Plans for a $767,000 runway study at McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad were cleared for takeoff Wednesday morning, starting a 15-month process to determine whether a runway extension can be built on top of an old city dump.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors OK’d funding for the study after a short discussion at their downtown San Diego meeting. The county owns the airport.

None of the county’s general fund (used for everything from potholes to patrol cars) will be tapped for the study. Instead, revenue from leases on county airport property will pay for it, officials said.

The desire for a longer runway has gained speed in recent years as McClellan-Palomar has transformed into a busy hub for private and corporate planes. That growth has been followed by several plane crashes in which pilots overshot the airport’s runway.

Airport officials say a runway extension would boost safety and reduce airplane noise for nearby residents. Early plans call for adding 1,100 feet to the 4,897-foot runway.

With a longer runway, planes would be higher off the ground once they leave the airport, reducing the noise heard in the neighborhoods below, Peter Drinkwater, the county’s airports director, said last week.

Supervisor Bill Horn, who represents Carlsbad, said in a statement after the meeting that a longer runway would bolster safety and create “additional opportunities for commuters and corporate jet-setters.”

“This is all about creating jobs and increasing business in North County,” Horn said. “It is time we find out what the true potential of the Palomar Airport is.”

Regarding the study’s hefty price tag, Supervisor Pam Slater-Price said by phone after the meeting: “I think it’s a complicated project and it has to be done right. We have to allocate the appropriate amount.”

She expressed concern about building on top of a landfill, noting several underground fires have burned inside the covered dump in the past. She said she was confident, however, that the concerns would be addressed in the study.

Slater-Price added that Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall spoke in favor of the study. No one spoke in opposition, she said.

Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., a national transportation consulting firm, will conduct the study, according to the county.

If at any point during the study an extension is determined not feasible, the study can be terminated with the county retaining all remaining funds, officials said.


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