Environmental Impact Report Holding Up Lambert Decision Runway Will Be Complete in 2002, Griggs Insists

Article excerpt

A federal decision on Lambert Field's expansion plan is stuck in a holding pattern.

Lambert officials want to build a new runway southwest of the current airfield as part of a $2.6 billion expansion project. If approved, the expansion would be the biggest public-works project in the St. Louis region.

But Lambert cannot build anything without the Federal Aviation Administration's approval. And before making a decision, the FAA must first release an environmental impact statement, which examines how the expansion will affect the community.

Mike Faltermeier, an FAA official, said that document - originally expected earlier this summer - won't come out this month. He said he could not predict when his office in Kansas City would release it.

"We might have been a little overly optimistic," Faltermeier said. "This particular project is really complex. There are not many projects of this magnitude across the country."

Airport officials insist that the late report will not delay the project. In a written statement, Airports Director Leonard Griggs said planners would adjust the construction and planning schedules so the runway still would be completed in 2002.

Expansion supporters hope that the extra time the FAA has spent on environmental analysis will help protect it from possible lawsuits filed by opponents of the plan. …