Philadelphia, May 5, 2014 – The City of Philadelphia, Delaware County, Tinicum Township and Interboro School District announced that they have reached an agreement in principle that will enable the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) to move forward on its airport expansion plan without the need to acquire 72 Tinicum Township homes and relocate approximately 300 Tinicum residents.
“Philadelphia is one of America’s premier cities, and as such we need a premier airport,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Today, I am proud to witness this historic announcement today, which will expand the airport and lead to the growth of our regional economy, more jobs and more economic opportunities for residents and businesses. The competitiveness of our region and the entire state is tied to the success of PHL – and by extension, its expansion.”
After nearly eight years, the City of Philadelphia, which owns and operates PHL, has reached an understanding with nearby municipalities that will enable the Airport to fully implement the Capacity Enhancement Program (CEP), which was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. The CEP is a comprehensive program to expand and modernize PHL with the goal of resolving issues that have plagued PHL for years by improving operational efficiencies, customer experiences and connectivity.
The proposed agreement provides for funding to ensure continuity of tax revenues for the Airport’s Delaware County neighbors as the CEP moves forward. Under the proposed plan, the Airport will expand using large undeveloped parcels of land, leaving the existing neighborhood east of 4th Avenue intact. This tentative agreement is the latest in a long history of discussions among the Airport, Tinicum Township, Delaware County and the Interboro School District.
In 2002, the U.S. Department of Transportation identified improvements to PHL as one of 13 high-priority projects nationwide. Those involved in the discussions over the years hail the tentative understanding as a positive development for the entire region.
“This agreement maintains the quality of life for the airport’s neighbors and will mean jobs for Delaware County residents,” said Tom McGarrigle, chairman of Delaware County Council. “It means thousands of direct construction jobs for our region. It means more jobs associated with the airport and its operations. And it will mean expanded access to overseas markets and more opportunities for Delaware County businesses, which is good for the economic growth of our county as a whole. This agreement is good for Delaware County, good for Tinicum Township, and good for Interboro School District.”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected to review the tentative agreement, which settles several years of litigation and advances the CEP while minimizing its impact on its closest neighbors, the people of Tinicum Township, in which two-thirds of the Airport is located. Since 2007, Airport payments to Delaware County stakeholders had been stalled. The new agreement restarts those payments.
More than 30 million travelers pass through PHL each year. The multi-billion dollar expansion program is expected to be completed in phases over 12 to 15 years. The program will be funded through airport revenue bonds, passenger facility charges, federal Airport Improvement Program grants, and other airport revenues. No local tax dollars will be used to fund the improvements. The result will be a more modern and efficient Airport better equipped to facilitate travel and commerce for years to come.
“Tinicum Township is home to most of Philadelphia International Airport and our residents have been patient while we have worked to form a relationship with the Airport and its governing bodies that is mutually beneficial,” said Thomas J. Giancristoforo, Jr., President of the Tinicum Township Board of Commissioners. “We believe the proposed terms provide for that. The Airport will be able to grow while the interests of the Tinicum Township residents, whose daily lives are directly impacted by the Airport and its operations, will still be protected.”
Airport CEO Mark Gale said, “This agreement was brought about through a great deal of hard work and collaboration, which is good for all parties involved and integral to the CEP and the vitality of the entire Philadelphia region. I want to thank Mayor Nutter and Deputy Mayor Cutler for their engagement and support during this entire process and their commitment to the CEP and the future of our Airport. I also want to thank the Tinicum Township Board of Commissioners and Delaware County Council for their collaboration during the negotiations, and the advancement of the CEP. I would also like to thank Congressman Meehan and Congressman Brady for their active role and participation in this very important milestone.”
Congressman Patrick Meehan said, “Philadelphia International Airport is a major driver of jobs and economic growth for our entire region. The expansion project will help the Airport attract vital long-distance international routes that will bring employers and jobs to our area. Just as important, it also protects the residents of Tinicum Township that live in the surrounding community, as well as local school districts. I’m pleased all the parties were able to come together and reach a proposed agreement, and I’m committed to working with the FAA, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and to other federal agencies involved to see this project through to completion.”