City officials and representatives from Tinicum Township, Delaware County and the Interboro School District today announced a tentative agreement in the multi-billion dollar Philadelphia International Airport Capacity Enhancement Program (CEP).
Airport CEO Mark Gale said the agreement reached will allow the $6.4 billion expansion project to move forward without having to displace 300 residents in 72 Tinicum Township homes.
"This agreement settles a longstanding dispute and provides us all the tools to move forward in a manner than advances the necessary airport redevelopment and provides benefits to our neighbors in Delaware County," Gale said at the afternoon news conference.
Airport officials began evaluating the facility's future needs in 1999. Under a 10-year planning process and a 7-year environmental review, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials concluded that an expansion would be necessary to address problems with excessive flight delays due to airfield congestion at the airport.
The CEP was initiated to keep up with anticipated growth in traffic at the airport--one of the busiest in the nation--which served more than 30 million passengers and accommodated nearly 433,000 takeoffs and landings last year.
Tinicum Township residents have been fighting the proposed expansion for more than 10 years.
The initial expansion plans called for the installation of a new runway along the Delaware River, that required the relocation of a United Postal Services (UPS) facility, and the demolition of more than 70 homes and almost a dozen Tinicum Township businesses.
Today's announcement provided details of a new proposal that avoids the acquisition of Tinicum residents' homes and several local businesses.
Tinicum Board of Commissioners President Tom Giancristoforo Jr. referred to the agreement as more of a concession on behalf of Tinicum Township leaders.
"We've exhausted all legal options. The City and the airport did address a lot of the issues of the residents. We saved 72 homes and there's a very few amount of businesses that will be impacted," he said.
"The bottom line here is that the CEP is definitely going to be a reality. I can't say that we are actually partners of the airport expansion, but we are a part of the airport."
Giancristoforo noted that roughly 80 to 85 percent of the airport grounds will be located in Tinicum Township boundaries by the completion of the expansion.
The airport supports more than 140,000 jobs and contributes $14.4 billion in annual revenue to the regional economy.
Key features of the expansion project include a 1,500 foot runway extension, a new Automated People Mover system, a consolidated rental car facility, and numerous airport rehabilitation projects such as roof, window, and escalator replacements, new restrooms, and security upgrades.
Giancristoforo said the details of the agreement will be presented to Tinicum Township residents in a town hall meeting later this week. He emphasized that the agreement is tentative and is therefore subject to change if residents have additional concerns.
"We keep saying tentative because nothing is final until we hear from our residents; that's who we represent," he said. "So, there may be some adjustments to the working in the present agreement after we hear from them."