Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What’s Plan B for the airport?

As the discussion concerning the new—sorry, regional—airport and the first indications of its escalating cost heat up, I would like to make a few random observations.

First of all, anyone who has ever flown into Chicago's fantastically busy Midway airport—where you can look into peoples' kitchen windows and see what they're going to have for supper as you come in to land—must be forgiven for wondering about the proclaimed dangers of our existing airport.

Second, the relocated airport will be lucky to be operational in 10 years time—just when the first effects of peak oil will be beginning to be felt, and gasoline prices will finally rise to equal those already being paid in Europe and England and most of the rest of the Western world (about $10 a gallon). This is bound to have an impact on the tourist and leisure industries, upon which we have become dependent here in the valley, and bring about enormous changes, new priorities and a very different lifestyle. Should this not be a consideration when contemplating the enormous cost of plowing up the sage to install another airport?

In the event that the price of this proposed enterprise becomes prohibitive (if it isn't already) but our existing airport must still be closed, what is Plan B? Is there a Plan B? Is the already functioning airport in Twin Falls and its local workforce even being considered as an alternative? Sadly, America has decided to lag far behind the rest of the developed world with their growing networks of 300-plus m.p.h. trains, so a light rail link between Twin Falls and Sun Valley (which would have the added advantage of diverting rush-hour traffic from Highway 75) probably wouldn't be a consideration. But couldn't there be a special bus link to Sun Valley, perhaps with airline seats and refreshments served?

After all, everyone accepts that traveling from the airport into London or Paris or New York takes an hour to an hour and a half. Would it honestly be such an intolerable inconvenience for visitors to our valley?

Diana Fassino


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