Sunday, March 25, 2012

Survey says build a new Bob Hope Airport terminal: Pasadena residents are more strongly in favor than those closer to airport.

By a margin of roughly 2 to 1, residents in the tri-city region favor construction of a new terminal at Bob Hope Airport, with Pasadena residents the biggest supporters of the change, according to a recent poll.

The support is good news for the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, which for years has sought public and political support for a new terminal.

The airport authority received another positive report this week, as construction bids on its planned transit hub came in under budget.

The current terminal at Bob Hope Airport is 80 years old. Parts of it don't meet seismic safety standards, and the Federal Aviation Administration has determined that the terminal is too close to one of the airport's runways.

The survey found that among 1,111 people polled in Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and portions of Los Angeles near the airfield, 48% favored a new terminal before being told of the problems with the current one.

When respondents learned of the terminal's flaws, support for a new one shot up to 67%. Just 24% opposed it.

The 199 Pasadenans who took part in the survey were slightly more supportive than people in areas closest to the airport, with 52% favoring a new terminal before they learned of the current one's limitations, and 69% favoring a new terminal afterward.

This is despite the fact that Pasadenans hold a slightly less favorable view of the airport than those in Burbank and Glendale, according to the survey conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research. While 82% of all respondents reported having a favorable view of the airport, only 76% of Pasadena residents said they hold that view.

Among Pasadenans surveyed, 60% said they perceive the airport as a good neighbor compared to the overall survey average of 72%.

Fewer Pasadenans reported being affected by airport noise or traffic than others who participated in the poll.

The most common concerns raised by those polled was the cost of a new terminal and whether it would be paid for using taxpayer dollars.

All of the funding for a replacement terminal would come from the airport, which is self-sustaining through parking revenues, rental fees and passenger-related charges, said Dan Feger, the airport authority's executive director.

The lopsided support for a new terminal in the survey surprised some who were aware of the historical pushback against the plan. Burbank residents, in particular, have been wary that the airport might seek to expand the size of the terminal, which is not now the case, and passed a measure several years ago requiring a popular vote of Burbank residents if the airport is to grow.

“One of the problems with this report is it's hard to believe,” Burbank Councilman David Gordon said at a March 15 meeting between the airport authority and the Burbank City Council. “It's inconsistent with the historical background.”

However, airport officials have pointed to efforts to address concerns of residents, including an agreement with passenger airlines not to schedule flights between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and a program in which the airport pays to improve sound insulation in homes near the airport's flight path.

The airport has no immediate plans to build a new terminal.

But its ongoing effort to provide an on-site transit hub for local commuters, rail passengers and rent-a-car customers took a positive turn this week.

Construction bids came in well under budget, a reversal in fortune for a project that was put on a diet last year after the first round of bids came in far higher than anticipated.

In June, bids for the so-called intermodal transit center — which will include facilities for rental cars and rail and bus lines to better connect passengers to the terminal — came in $47 million to $75 million above the originally projected cost of $112 million.

The latest round of bids for a scaled-down version of the project came in more than $11 million below the new budget of $93 million, officials announced Friday.

McCarthy Building Companies submitted a $72.7-million bid to build the transit center, while Bomel Construction Co. bid $8.5 million to build a related parking structure, according to the airport authority.

The 520,000-square-foot center will accommodate the nine car rental companies currently serving Bob Hope Airport and better connect passengers to regional transit lines. It will also feature solar panels and a 19-foot-high covered walkway connecting to the terminal.

In a statement, Dan Feger, executive director of the airport authority, said the transit center “embodies the phrase ‘planes, trains and automobiles'” and will create “a green tri-city gateway upon which to build for tomorrow.”

Authority officials hope to start the two-year construction period this summer.

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