Local News

Broward Commissioners vote in favor of FLL runway expansion

Posted: 06/06/07 at 9:23 am EDT
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- After 17 years of debate and protest, a proposal to expand Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport's runway to 8,000 feet will move forward following a majority vote by Broward County's commissioners.

The commissioners voted six to three at the meeting, which began Tuesday night and did not end until 1:30 Wednesday morning. The south runway will expand from 5,300 feet to 8,000 feet over a five-year period.

The proposal has been stirring years of controversy between commissioners and residents, which brought out over a thousand people to express their views at the meeting.

People filled the room wearing red and yellow T-shirts. Most of those in attendance wore red shirts with the words "No airport expansion." Protesters complained the expansion will increase the noise over their homes and businesses and would have a negative impact on the environment. The people wearing yellow represented those in favor of the expansion. 

Police arrested attorney Brenda Lee Chalifour, who wore on of the red T-shirts, while she was standing at the podium, after the Broward County Mayor said she could not speak on behalf of her client. Broward Sheriff's Deputies escorted Chalifour out of the building, as she shouted, "What am I being charged for? Someone answer me!"

Chalifour's pleas, along with others against the expansion, caused the meeting to last over four testy hours. However, their arguments could not sway the commission or the Mayor of Broward County's firm stance on the proposal. "For 17 years we have dealt with this issue," said Broward County Mayor Josephus Eggelletion, Jr. "Since September of 1990, here in Broward County, the commission has grappled with one of the most important issues in this county."

The Mayor of Dania Beach, Bob Anton, whose city will be most affected by the expansion, says the commissioners are blowing billions of dollars on this project and that the airport belongs to the entire county, not just the commission. Anton said he was speechless about their decision to go ahead with it.

The new south runway will be elevated over U.S. 1 and will cost an estimated $695 million. Under the proposal the county will now have to either buy 2,500 homes or sound proof them.

(Copyright 2007 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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