Secretary Mineta Signs Letter Of Intent
International Airport (IAD) received a $200 million pledge from the
federal government Tuesday to help build a fourth runway at the
busy airport. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta signed a
letter of intent to provide funding over the next eleven years for
"The new runway will reduce flight delays, allow the airport to
keep pace with demand, and ensure safety," Mineta said at the
signing. "It will give Washington area travelers more choices, more
convenience and more confidence."
The new federal funds will help cover the costs of building the
runway and associated taxiways at the airport. The project will
provide a third north-south runway at the airport. Once completed
in 2008, it will allow Dulles to handle up to 50 percent more
flights per hour during the right conditions, Mineta said.
He added that the new runway will make it easier for aircraft to
land during bad weather conditions. He said the project also would
help reduce flight delays nationwide.
"Making sure the airport can handle more take-offs and landings
each year is the best way to avoid the kind of traffic jams in the
sky that cause delays at airports from Savannah to San Diego and
Memphis to Miami," Mineta said.
The decision to begin construction on a new runway comes after
the FAA released its Record of Decision
(ROD) on the proposal last October. At the time, the
FAA said the proposal -- which also called for the construction of
another east-west runway -- was the best way to meet the airport's
future needs safely, and with minimal environmental impact.
Traffic at Dulles has grown from twelve million passengers a
year in 1996 to over twenty-seven million in 2005, Mineta said. The
airport is now among the nation’s busiest.
Mineta said that the airport has been working over the years to
keep pace with its growing passenger load -- by expanding its main
terminal (below), adding a new air traffic control tower and new
concourses and building new parking facilities, among other
Mineta added, however, "this airport is growing too fast to just
tinker around the edges."
The Letter of Intent signed by Secretary Mineta and Metropolitan
Washington Airports Authority President James Bennett provides
Dulles with a federal commitment to use Airport Improvement Funds
from the Federal Aviation Administration to help cover part of the
$356 million project.