Neighbors of Baltimore-Washington International Airport voiced concern at a public hearing last night that a proposed $1.3 billion expansion of the facility would increase traffic, noise and air pollution.
More than 70 people attended the hearing, conducted by the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Maryland Aviation Administration, on the expansion's environmental assessment study. The study evaluated the economic and environmental effects the expansion would have on noise, air quality, wildlife, solid waste and community services.
According to the study, noise from the airport would change but not increase, and pollution would stay within acceptable limits.
But that did not satisfy Kay Davis of Linthicum who said she and her neighbors are forced to keep their windows closed because of pollution.
"Airports never enrich residential areas," she said. "They are like a cancer. They'll destroy everything that's around that's residential."
Ron Pusloskie of Severn agreed.
"The MAA is making all these improvements for 30 million people but is forgetting about the people in the surrounding areas," he said.
The proposed expansion would include larger concourses, moving sidewalks, new parking facilities and improvements to the roads and rails for BWI, the second-fastest growing major commercial airport in the nation. When completed, the airport expansion would have 28,300 parking spaces, 100 terminal gates and a terminal capacity of 30 million passengers. Passenger traffic is expected to reach 25 million by 2005.
The plan also includes moving the rental car companies to a consolidated facility west of the airport at Stoney Run and New Ridge roads. The move would free 1,000 prime parking spaces in the garage.
Noise from the facility would change but not increase because of the increased traffic and operations at the rental car facilities, the study concluded.
But Gary Weber of Severn said the expansion plan should include a redesign of the noise abatement plan and an enforcement program.
"Until the noise problems are successfully addressed, we are opposed, in principle, to the expansion plan," Weber said.
The study also determined that the increase in emissions caused by the expansion would be within required levels.
Anne Arundel County Councilwoman Pamela G. Beidle said her concern is the MAA's plan to cut down 108 acres of trees for the expansion. She said the trees that would be lost should be replaced.
"We all know that trees help us with the heat we feel with the airport and noise pollution," she said.
The study showed the MAA would provide 69 acres off site to mitigate the impact.
The public review period for the study, drafted by MDT and the MAA for final approval by the Federal Aviation Administration, began Aug. 30 and will end at 6 p.m. Oct. 13. The two-volume document can be read at 11 libraries throughout Anne Arundel, Howard and Baltimore counties. The expansion is expected to be complete by 2005.