MCAS Miramar as the new San Diego International?
For years San Diego International Airport has been one of the busiest single runway operations in the country. Oftentimes traffic has exceeded the airport’s capacity, resulting in delays. One option that has been tossed around in city council meetings, as well as top D.O.D. briefings, is to make Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, the new San Diego International.
Surely the intent is to not leave it as a joint military/civilian use airport. That kind of thing may work in other countries (See Udon Thani International Airport, in Thailand). The Marines and all their aircraft would have to move somewhere else. Not to mention the demolition, and construction costs (they’d be in the hundreds of millions). San Diego has the highest concentration of military members and assets of anywhere in the country. Perhaps moving the Marines somewhere else might be a good thing?
Many residents that live close to the base, complain about the millions of touch and go’s that take place annually. “I know that they have a job to do, but come on…the noise pollution is killing me”, said a local resident of Mira Mesa. I was stationed at Miramar (a long long time ago) and I remember fielding noise complaints while on duty in the General’s building. Most times all we could do was apologize, and tell them that it’s “Just the sound of freedom”. I know that’s of little consolation to someone that constantly hears the roar of F-18’s everyday.
Moving the base isn’t that easy. Many feel that much of the local economy is tied to the military base, and that moving assets elsewhere would cause a ripple effect. “Take Lee’s Haircuts for example. If you shuttered the base, that business would go under. The 5,000 Marines that go in there every Sunday, are the one’s keeping that business afloat”, said local resident James Bonnette. Mr. Bonnette added; “And don’t get me started on Juanbertos. Those Marines get drunk every weekend, and they always end up at Juanny B’s for carne adada fries, and horchatas. There’s no way the staff at even an International airport could match that”.
The change, wether bad or good for the local economy, still leaves the question; “where would we relocate the assets to?” I’m sure the sound of “Marine Corps Air Station Des Moines” probably doesn’t sound enticing to any of the Marines currently stationed in paradise. “Marine Corps Air Station Miami” would probably soften the blow a little bit (MCAS Miami used to be an actual place back in the 1950’s). Most likely what would happen, would be a redistribution of assets. Some squadrons would move to MCAS’s Beaufort, Cherry Point, and Yuma, however those bases are already at or near capacity. Building a new base somewhere might be an option, given the current government and their pledge to boost the military.
Whatever happens, the idea of converting MCAS Miramar into an international airport has merits. There are two long ass parallel runways, and a very large surface area (in terms of acreage). The local infastructure could easily support a major airport (obviously…it already kinda does). The city is growing, and according to Forbes, was the 13th fastest growing metropolitan area of the United States. The current International airport is hanging in there (it’s a nice little airport). The problem is, that this city deserves something better than a “Nice little airport”.
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