Click on the questions below for answers to the most frequently asked questions about this project.
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The MSP 2040 Long-term Comprehensive Plan (“the Plan”) is a forward-looking planning tool that studies the facility and infrastructure needs based on projected 20-year passenger demand and aircraft operations.
The planning process will focus on evaluating when facility improvements are needed to accommodate project demand in a manner that is safe, efficient, orderly and cost-effective and that maintains and enhances customer service.
The Plan does not authorize construction or improvements to facilities. Nor does it serve as the basis for determining eligibility for noise mitigation programs. Rather, it helps the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) better understand and plan for future facility needs. The appropriate venue for the discussion and analysis of environmental mitigation, such as noise mitigation, in the context of a proposed development is in a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental document (Environmental Assessment, Environmental Impact Statement, etc.) or a separate Part 150 Study.
Like cities, the MAC is required to complete a Long-Term Comprehensive Plan for each of its airports. The last LTCP was completed in 2010 with a planning period out to 2030. The MAC began to update the Plan in 2015, but it was paused at the request of community members in order to understand the implications of new air traffic control safety rules for converging runway operations (CRO). Specifically, implications for forecast runway use and related flight patterns needed to be understood in order to provide a good-faith outlook of the airport based on the best information possible.
While the FAA is yet to finalize CRO procedures at MSP, the FAA has communicated that the procedures it has put in place to mitigate CRO impacts have stabilized over the past year, and now there is sufficient confidence in the data to resume the long term planning process. Therefore in 2019, the MAC launched efforts to update its long term plan for MSP with a new planning horizon of 2020-2040.
MSP Airport is a major transportation asset in the region; therefore, it is important to plan for its future. The Airport serves a region of 3.6 million residents – the nation’s 16th largest in metropolitan service areas by population.
The area is home to 19 Fortune 500 companies, several large private companies and tourist destinations such as the Mall of America. The region also supports a large number of colleges and universities including the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas. The area hosts teams in five different major league professional sports and has recently hosted Super Bowl LII, NCAA Frozen Four, X Games, and the Ryder Cup. The airport serves as an anchor in the community and plays a significant role in supporting a thriving and diverse economy by transporting people, goods and services. The airport's 3,400 acres arguably comprise the most valuable economic generator between the St. Croix River and Seattle, supporting more than 86,900 jobs, $15.9 billion in business revenue, $3.7 billion in personal income, $2.5 billion in local purchases, and $546 million in state and local taxes.
Ultimately, the MAC will plan for future facilities that will meet projected activity levels in a manner that will deliver on its mission to provide the best airport experience.
Public involvement is an important part of this project. The planning process will be divided into four distinct phases, or “milestones.” These milestones will culminate in a public event. Four public events will be held to share information about each phase and receive input. Input received during each milestone’s public event will help inform the remaining phases of the planning process.
The dates, times and locations of these events will be determined before the event and posted to the project website. A notice will also be sent to subscribers who’ve asked to receive email notices about the project.
The fourth public event will occur during the formal public comment period, which will begin after the MAC board has approved publication of the draft plan. Written comments about the draft Plan will be collected during this time. Members of the public will be invited to submit written comments through email or physical delivery during the comment timeframe. All written comments received will be published in the final report and included in the project record.
Ultimately the MAC Board will need to approve the Plan. However, the document’s approval does not authorize any construction or related activities. For any of the proposed projects – or remedies – to be included in the Capital Improvement Program and be approved for funding and construction, an environmental evaluation and Board authorization are required.
Additionally, the Metropolitan Council must review the Plan and determine if it is consistent with its Regional Transportation Plan.
Throughout the process, interested individuals can submit comments via the “Contact Project Team” link on the project website, in writing sent to the email or mailing address posted on the project website, and/or in person at the public events.
Input from the public is one of the factors that the project team will consider in developing the Plan. Other factors that are critical for the project team to consider include:
Maintaining a high level of service
Achieving the MAC’s established goals and objectives for the Plan
Conforming to airport design standards
Maintaining operational safety and feasibility
Federal and state policies
The Plan may not incorporate all of the input provided by the public. The project team will listen to concerns, input and aspirations shared by the public and, when possible, make changes to alternatives developed to reflect public input. Additionally, feedback will be provided to the public on how it influenced decisions in the plan.
Comments from the public may be added to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the project website or answered verbally as part of a public event. Lastly, comments received during the public comment period after the release of the draft Plan will be considered during its finalization.
Sign-in sheets from public meeting events and Stakeholder Advisory Panel meetings will be included in the document. Additionally, comments made during the public comment period by municipalities, elected officials and associations will be included in their entirety and responded to in the final Plan. Comments from individuals during the public comment period will not be included in their entirety, nor will they include identifying information. Rather, they will be summarized and included in the final document.
No. The projected 2040 noise contours are meant to provide an additional level of information about the long-term outlook for MSP. The MAC regards aircraft noise as a consideration in the ongoing operation and possible future development of MSP. To-date the MAC has mitigated over 15,000 single-family and 3,300 multi-family homes, 19 schools and acquired property at a cost approaching $500 million.
The MAC’s mitigation program will remain in place through 2024. It requires homes to fall within the 60 DNL or greater contour and within a higher noise impact area compared with the previous program for three consecutive years in order to be included in the program. Those contours are generated annually and are based on actual MSP airport data. That actual data, not forecasted contours, will continue to be used to determine eligibility for noise mitigation through 2024.
The topic of future mitigation will likely be addressed via an updated environmental review for future developments at MSP that require federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review outside those evaluated in the most recent NEPA review (which was the MSP 2020 Improvements federal Environmental Assessment/state Environmental Assessment Worksheet). Evaluation of the appropriate state and federal level of environmental review will be conducted prior to constructing new projects identified in the Plan. Such environmental review is the appropriate mechanism for evaluating any environmental impacts and mitigation strategies, such as residential noise mitigation, resulting from airport improvement projects.
The objectives of the Stakeholder Advisory Panel (“Panel”) are to present information about the planning process to major stakeholder groups and to ensure that those tasked with making planning decisions hear and consider public concerns and aspirations related to the process.
Specifically, the Panel is an advisory board representing major stakeholder groups that have an interest in the planning process. The Panel serves several important functions, including:
- Representing a broad range of stakeholder groups;
- Receiving information about the planning process; and
- Communicating public concerns and aspirations as the voice of key stakeholders.
It is important to note that the Panel serves only in an advisory capacity. While the Panel may offer opinions, advice, and guidance, the MAC has solely responsible for all planning decisions.
The MAC uses a variety of sources related to flight and passenger trends to inform the forecast. These include airports, airlines and industry groups. Information related to passenger enplanements (people getting onto a flight), airfares, cargo volumes, the number of passenger, cargo, general aviation, charter and military flights, historical patterns, historical profitability, as well as socioeconomic data are all studied and used to produce the forecasts for the Long-Term Plan.
The MAC operates one of the largest airport systems in the world with MSP and six general aviation “reliever” airports. These airports play a vital role in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, providing $756 million in economic activity, easy access to businesses and communities throughout the metropolitan area, and an attractive alternative to MSP for private and corporate pilots. These six airports – all within a 35-mile radius of the two downtowns - handle aircraft that may otherwise have used MSP if the airports were not available. The aircraft operators (i.e. airlines, cargo operators, general aviation pilots, etc.) determine which airports they will use. The airports located outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area serve the communities in their areas.
Area Navigation (RNAV) is a component of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) technology being implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). MSP currently has RNAV procedures in place at MSP for arriving traffic. These procedures have been in place since 2015.
RNAV Standard Instrument Departure (SID) procedure development is separate from airport improvement projects. New flight procedures may be subject to environmental review by the FAA. Although FAA actions are separate, any reasonably foreseeable modifications to flight procedures pertinent to the plan will be taken into account in the plan to the highest degree possible.