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Posted on Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 2:06 p.m.

Preliminary environmental assessment report for Ann Arbor airport expansion available for review

By Edward Vielmetti


An airplane takes off at Ann Arbor Municipal Airport in this photo from the cover of the report from JJR on airport expansion plans.

City of Ann Arbor, JJR

A draft of the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport Environmental Assessment, prepared for the Federal Aviation Administration, Michigan Department of Transportation Bureau of Aeronautics and Freight Services and City of Ann Arbor, is available for review. 

This 193-page document looks at the environmental impacts of several plans for airport expansion and recommends a Preferred Alternative that involves shifting and extending the existing runway. The report was prepared by civil engineering firm JJR. 

The draft document is available online at the Ann Arbor Area Government Document Repository site and from the Airport News and Projects webpage. A public hearing on the assessment has been scheduled from 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31 at Cobblestone Farm, 2781 Packard Road. 

The draft document is available for public review and comment until April 12. Comments can be directed to Molly Lamrouex, MDOT Bureau of Aeronautics and Freight Services, 2700 Port Lansing Drive, Lansing, MI 48906, sent via facsimile to 517-886-0366, or sent via electronic mail to

The proposed airport expansion has been controversial; our recent story from Feb. 7, Debate over runway expansion at Ann Arbor airport heats up, provides background on the conflicting arguments for and against the expansion.

Editor's note: A previous photo caption described the airplane as landing; the caption has been corrected to note that the airplane is taking off. The contact address to send comments to has been updated based on information from the Michigan Department of Transportation. Both errors were corrected in the original story above.

Edward Vielmetti is the lead blogger at Contact him at



Fri, Mar 5, 2010 : 9:05 a.m.

Just to clarify. The $ 300000 (+/- few Dollars) did not all go to the "Environmental Study". As far as I can find out, most of it went to engineering study as well. Not that it really matters...The end result is the same: Waste of large sum of money, for no good reason and it is money this country does not have. If this project is approved, many more of your federal and local tax Dollars will fall into this same black hole. Remember, traffic IS down in a steady trendand unless you believe that fuel will go down to where it was prior to 9/11...there is absolutely no reason to believe we will see much improvement. Just read the airport's own FAQs. They have more or less, no clue when it comes to projecting to future business.


Thu, Mar 4, 2010 : 8:20 p.m.

Lynn Lumbard >>I don't have much to say about whether to expand the airport or not to expand the airport. I just had NO idea that the City of Ann Arbor owned the airport!! Why in the world does the city own and run an airport? I've lived here my whole life and always just assumed it belonged to a wealthy group of people that owned planes. Why does one penny of tax payer money go to this?


Thu, Mar 4, 2010 : 8:06 p.m.

All. This "Environmental study" at the cost of $ 300,000 is the direct result of the fact that the AA Council was sold a bill of goods. They were told, it was about "safety" while in reality the intent was to increase takeoff and landing gross weight. Safety of nearby communities incl AA, was never a factor in this "study". The environmental study orchestrated by the airport manager and the airport "Advisory Committee" pushed it while keeping the community and the AA Council in the dark with their "The airport will remain the same category" hogwash. Folks. Lets cut through the nonsense. It is not about safety, never has been. Same airport category does not mean that aircraft weight will remain as it is today. It will not!. It does not even mean that the runway will end at 4300'. A 5000' runway can still be a Category B-2 airport. That however was not made clear when this fairytale was first told. As you can see from this "study", after the Airport manager and the Airport "Advisory Committee" started the snow ball behind everyone's backs, MDOT picked up the ball and is now advocating weight increase. Weight increase at an airport (Remember that the land was purchased to provide water for AA, not to operate an airport.) situated in the midst of hundreds of homes, is insanity at best! While we are talking about heavier aircraft and the danger they pose for the community, lets not forget that over the years there were over 9 fatal crashes in the surrounding area, directly related to airplanes arriving or departing ARB (They were all airborne and the accidents had nothing to do with the length of the runway.) You never hear about these crashes (One of which was near Bryant school) from those who push for the expansion, while you hear a LOT about the list of so called "overruns" that have never even scratched a person and for most part were classified by the FAA and NTSB as "pilot error". One more thing for those of you in AA who prefer their water without LEAD... Jet fuel, contains lead. And that is just another one ugly fact you don't hear about from the airport lobby. Do you think JJR the "environmental study" facilitator had any problems with that? Think again folks. These are the same folks who could not find any Canadian Geese in the area... Or did not want to discuss the issue of Bird Strike". You would think that for $ 300,000 they could at least, find ONE Goose...Or at least understand that Bird Strike did cause an airplane to land in the Hudson...environmentally speaking. Folks, send an extremely clear message to MDOT the FAA, your state Reps and the AA Council, to stop this insanity permanently! This idiotic motion comes up at your expense once every 10 years. And one last thing folks for when you read their "Purpose and need" chapter. Folks, there is no "purpose" or "need". There is a perfectly good airport, safer with precision instrument approaches, 24/7 crash and rescue and 24/7 control tower and weather reporting, just 10 min away. We all know where it is.


Thu, Mar 4, 2010 : 3:57 p.m.

Any of the Ann Arbor officials that support this "needed" expansion can be assured that whoever runs against them the next time will have my vote! Stop the insanity now!!!!


Thu, Mar 4, 2010 : 11:49 a.m.

1. The environmental assessment did not examine the impact of airport expansion on people living near or far from the airport. It looked at whether any rare and interesting plants were going to be destroyed by laying another 950 ft of concrete. They even managed to miss the fact that thousands of Canada geese have their own take off and landing operations at the end of the proposed expansion! 2. Ann Arbor City have been subsiding this loss making airport for many years. Times are a changing. It is expensive and un-environmental. 3. No sensible person in business is going to care whether they land at Willow Run or Ann Arbor. In fact, you can travel further from Willow run and it has a 24 hour tower. 4. We need to support Willow Run - it has a superior infrastructure. And, it is underutilized like Ann Arbor airport. Stop wasting taxpayers money (local and federal).


Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 11:49 p.m.

V - You hit the nail right on the head. RonAnnArbor - There aren't any businesses that would decide to place locate their business in Ann Arbor versus another town in Michigan because it would require a 10-15 minute drive from Willow Run. That's ricidulous. The presence of say, the new Google high speed internet in Ann Arbor, would be 1000 times more appealing to a business than an airport that is 10 minutes closer. Besides, as "V" indicated, supposedly this expansion is all about SAFETY. By the way, there's this bridge that's for sale...


Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 9:46 p.m.

When speaking of airplanes, being close to an airport can be quite a ways away. My house is in the path and I hear them overhead all the time. My point is that it is not just next door or across the street that will be affected. I don't see any need for this at all. Someone would have to get very specific about exactly what business this is supposed to bring in if they want to convince me that there is any benefit.


Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 8:41 p.m.

Lynn - The City originally purchased the land for water rights. The vast majority of years in the past decade, your tax dollars from the city's general fund have been spent on preventing the airport from becoming bankrupt. I have no idea why we would want to expand the airport. It's a ridiculous idea.

Lynn Lumbard

Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 6:16 p.m.

I don't have much to say about whether to expand the airport or not to expand the airport. I just had NO idea that the City of Ann Arbor owned the airport!! Why in the world does the city own and run an airport? I've lived here my whole life and always just assumed it belonged to a wealthy group of people that owned planes. Why does one penny of tax payer money go to this?


Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 5:35 p.m.

SMIAVE - I can't understand why people making comments fail to understand the simple difference between accepting the airport as is and objecting to its EXPANSION. The comment about "NIMBY" and "buying a house near an airport" are tired. There's nothing wrong with a homeowner objecting to an EXPANSION of an airport that is near their home. If they were crying for the airport's closure, then that would be a valid comment.


Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 5:04 p.m.

This will play out well. Whose bank accounts will hold out. Will it be the newly rich NIMBY's or the well established dynasties using public funds. So far, score one for the old timers as they had common sense not to BUY a house NEXT to an airport.


Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 4:45 p.m.

Hmmm...isn't the proposed expansion at the other end of the runway?


Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 4:20 p.m.

Looks like someone doesn't know the difference between a landing aircraft and one taking off. If it's landing, it will be somewhere to the east of State Street.


Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 3:49 p.m.

NO to Ann Arbor Airport expansion. YES to supporting continued Willow Run operations. NO to duplicative infrastructure construction. NO to colossal folly waste! NO to Team Hieftje and plethora of wasteful and unneeded projects. YES to the return of prudent, competent a2 City management.


Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 2:49 p.m.

Just another boondoggle designed to placate rich folks that want their private and corporate jets closer to home. If this project is approved, then government waste will be at another all time high. Next thing they will want is a hotel on the site. Anyone want to bet there is a Monoghan hiding somewhere behind this whole scheme?


Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 2:34 p.m.

"we can't afford another consultant" That's about as true as it gets right there.


Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 12:48 p.m.

Stop this madness. We don't need and can't afford the expansion and we can't afford another consultant